Amid Global Pandemic, Illinois Sets Marijuana Sales Record
Although the pandemic has had a sad, unfortunate and unprecedented negative impact on a large number of industries, the same isn’t necessarily true of the marijuana industry, as more and more people decide that if they have to stay home anyway, they might as well enjoy it with some legal marijuana.
According to a new report by the Associated Press, marijuana sales in Illinois have totaled more than $300 million since the start of the year (with July being the top month), according to state figures. “July cannabis sales hit $61 million, which is up from $47.6 million in June and $44.3 million in May, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation and New Frontier Data.”
The AP states that one reason for the increase in sales could be the customers’ ability to order online, which many dispensaries started to keep lines down, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We got a lot better at being able to get people in and out because of the online order reservations,” said Jonah Rapino, spokesman for NuEra, which has dispensaries in Chicago, East Peoria and Urbana and recently changed its name from NuMed. The amount of money that customers spend at dispensaries has also increased. The average transaction was $126 in the first three months of the year but increased to $150 in April, May and June, according to Washington, D.C.-based New Frontier.
According to Greg Butler, chief commercial officer at Chicago-based marijuana company Cresco Labs, the pandemic could be credited to the increase in demand, too. “More product availability could also be a contributing factor to the high demand. During the beginning of the year, there were some supply issues. The Tribune previously reported that dispensaries said they needed more marijuana and employees.”
Butler noted that many facilities that grow marijuana expanded operation, and those products started hitting the shelves over the summer. Cresco expanded at some of its facilities and increased production at its Joliet location.
“With supply picking up, it has allowed customers to purchase that extra product or two that might not have been available,” said Michael Mandera, general manager of the Herbal Care Center dispensary.
Katie Johnston-Smith, 33, who was feeling “a good, healthy amount of panic” at the beginning of the pandemic, has started using marijuana a few times a week compared to a couple times a month.
Experts say she is not the only one. Many people have chosen marijuana as a way to decrease anxiety brought on by the pandemic.
“It was pretty nice because it did help me mellow out,” Johnston-Smith said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is way better than mellowing out with a glass of wine.’”