CHICAGO (CBS) — Recreational marijuana continues to be increasingly popular in Illinois, with sales so far this year topping $169 million, more than doubling the nearly $74 million in sales reported during the first two months of 2020.
Since recreational weed became legal in Illinois last year, sales have increased every month, except for slight declines each February.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: A Few Rain And Snow Showers To Continue
According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, this year’s recreational pot sales include a monthly record of nearly $89 million in January, followed by nearly $81 million in sales last month, when much of Illinois endured a more than two-week stretch of frigid cold and heavy snow.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: State Reports Lowest Average Infection Rate In Two Weeks, But Hospitalizations Still Rising
If the trends of increasing recreational marijuana sales continue, they could easily surpass the $1 billion mark in 2021, topping the $1 billion in combined recreational and medical cannabis sales in 2020. Last year’s recreational marijuana sales alone totaled nearly $679 million.
The number of recreational marijuana dispensaries also has nearly doubled over the past year, from 45 licensed dispensaries statewide on the first day of recreational pot sales on Jan. 1, 2020, and 82 licensed dispensaries as of March 4.MORE NEWS: University Of Chicago Resumes In Person Classes After COVID Outbreak
The state originally was supposed to issue 75 new licenses through a lottery system last May, but that process has been delayed after a barrage of complaints that only 21 of 700 applicants made the cut for the lottery. The state later agreed to give rejected applicants a second chance to qualify. No new date for the lottery has been set.