The state of Illinois has reported record-breaking cannabis sales for the fifth straight month. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced that consumers purchased more than 1.4 million marijuana products worth in excess of $66 million.
Out-of-state visitors accounted for almost $18 million of those sales. This data furthers the notion that the cannabis industry is pandemic and recession proof, which is why governors from states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have pushed hard in recent months for legalization.
Although positive economic impacts are certainly a cause for celebration in the state of Illinois, state officials are now turning their focus to properly allocate tax revenue to reinvest in communities most impacted by the war on drugs.
With $52 million in cannabis tax revenue obtained in the first six months since the plant's legalization in January, 25% of that toal will go towards a social equity program. The state also announced in May that it made $31.5 million available for restorative justice grants, which will be exclusively funded by marijuana tax revenue.
As the state continues its mission to make retributions for those disproportionately affected by the drug war, ensuring an equitable market has been a difficulty. Would-be social equity licensees that were denied an opportunity to participate in a licensing lottery due to apparent problems with their applications have filed lawsuits against regulators.
The state had originally said it would approve 75 of these licenses. Ultimately, only 21 qualified. Critics have complained that submitting an application takes a great deal of resources, thus creating a barrier for who the special licenses were intended to assist in the first place.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker announced in September that rejected applicants would be allowed to resubmit corrected forms—but three investors from the initial round of applications have already filed a lawsuit, claiming the administration’s decision to allow for resubmitted applications is unlawful.