According to state officials, there was $3.2 million in marijuana sold in Illinois during their first day of legal sales.
There were 77, 128 transactions on New Year’s Day, when the law legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes took effect, according to Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser to Gov. J.B. Pritzker on cannabis control, and first reported on by the Associated Press. Dispensaries reported long lines the first day of sales and expected them to continue through the weekend.
“Those lines actually show there’s an incredible opportunity to grow this industry,″ Hutchinson told reporters Thursday in Chicago. “There’s new room for new people to come in.”
“By comparison, neighboring Michigan, which made recreational marijuana legal starting Dec. 1, generated $3.1 million in the first two weeks of sales”, states the AP. “First-day sales in Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, were over $1 million on Jan. 1, 2014.”
Hutchinson said Thursday marked “phase two″ of the Illinois legalization law, with the day being a deadline for applicants under the so-called social equity provisions of the law to apply.
Designed to help minority applicants who’ve been most adversely affected by law enforcement efforts to fight the drug, the provisions include ways for qualified applicants to pay lower licensing fees and get business loans and technical assistance. Also under the law, some marijuana sales revenue will be earmarked for neighborhood development grants, and low-level marijuana convictions will be expunged. Pritzker granted more than 11,000 such pardons Tuesday.
People began lining up on Wednesday at 6 a.m., the earliest that Illinois’ new law allowed such sales, notes the AP. Among those who bought on the first day was Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton who purchased edible gummies in Chicago.
“I’m here to celebrate a big day in Illinois,” Stratton said.
Illinois already allowed medical marijuana, but it is now the 11th state to allow its use and sale for recreational purposes.
Pamela Althoff, executive director of the Springfield-based Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, said she spent much of Wednesday morning in Chicago and its northwestern suburbs. She said wait times of up to three hours were getting shorter as the day progressed.
“It has been joyous and well-run,” she said. “People are extraordinarily courteous and civil.”
Police were on-hand at most shops mostly to control traffic. Althoff cautioned that recreational marijuana may not be consumed in public and added that like all new products, it may be a little expensive.
“We hope that down the line it will become less expensive,” she said. “The message from the industry is not promoting or opposing, it’s the state of Illinois made it legal and we’re here to provide a safe and a quality product for those who wish to consume.″
Cannabis sales could generate $250 million for Illinois by 2022, according to estimates by state officials.