CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker warned Tuesday that the state’s finances are in dire shape, but at least the state can count on weed for some extra cash flow.
Recreational marijuana sales just set a new record high – nearly $64 million worth of cannabis was sold last month. And as CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reported Tuesday evening, those numbers are expected to keep growing.
At the Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. in River North, a lot of green has been changing hands – in more than one metaphorical sense.
There was not just a steady flow of customers on Tuesday, but all summer long. And new numbers from August prove just how much money the state is making off of pot.
“I like smoking, but I want to slow down with that too,” said Jose Hernandez.
Hernandez on Tuesday had just picked up his order from Sunnyside. He is going with edibles instead of weed to smoke.
“So with the edibles, it’s like more of a help and I know it’s really more of a concentration with it, so I got me some of that for later on tonight to be able to go to sleep comfortably, you know?” he said.
Hernandez said he purchased $130 worth of product, and was grateful it was not as crowded as other recent visits.
“Usually, the average, I’ve been seeing it’s a nice little rush they’ve been having,” he said.
While restaurants and other retail establishments shutter, you could say the recreational marijuana industry is growing like what else, but a weed.
“You’re seeing more product come to market, you’re seeing more stores open, and you’re seeing more people get familiar and educate themselves that cannabis is legal in Illinois, so I think that perfect storm of that situation is really drawing a lot of people into cannabis and making those numbers what they are,” said Jason Erkes of Cresco Labs.
Those numbers amount to more than $19 million in tax revenue alone during the month of August – almost double what was made in the first month of sales in January. That has left the industry riding high on success.
“We’re happy we can contribute both locally and statewide to the tax base during these economic times,” Erkes said.
And customers are eager to get in on the reefer madness.
“I’m going to have to make my move and invest, if anything,” Hernandez said.
At least a quarter of the sale tax will go to the Restore, Reinvest, Renew fund that provides grants to community organizations, local governments, and other entities related to economic development, reentry programming, and violence prevention, among other things.