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Illinois Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Prepare for Adult-Use Sales in 2020

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Illinois has issued their first round of marijuana business licenses for the state. Seventy-five licenses were issued with 55 going to existing medical marijuana dispensaries. As of December 1st, 30 adult-use licenses have been issued. Residents are patiently awaiting the sale of recreational cannabis on New Year’s Day. Expect this holiday to be celebrated similarly to 4/20. Statewide, Illinois medical marijuana dispensaries are expecting a consumer rush and are hoping to avoid any missteps as some activists and opponents are wondering if the rollout will be successful. 

Recreational Cannabis Taxes

A tight supply will likely lead to high prices in a state that already has some of the highest-priced medical grade cannabis in the country. Currently, prices are averaging $300 an ounce at many Illinois medical marijuana dispensaries. Consumers can expect additional cannabis taxes added onto every transaction. Additional taxes are as follows:

  • 10% for cannabis up to 35% THC
  • 20% for products that exceed 35% THC

Furthermore, buyers must bring cash. Dispensaries cannot accept checks or credit cards. As growers increase production to meet expected demand, Illinois is already experiencing shortages of certain products. Cannabis control advisor, Tori Hutchinson, said she is not worried as regulators are still meeting their deadlines for the program. 

Adult-Use Consumer Rules

With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, it is important to know the rules for adult-use consumption. Adults can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of infused edibles. Pot will still remain illegal for those under 21 years of age. Furthermore, one cannot drive a vehicle while consuming. Smoking in public spaces is not allowed and it will be up to landowners as to whether or not to allow cannabis on the property. 

Additionally, employers can still hold a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis. Unlike Michigan though, Illinois has licensed public smoke spaces at designated dispensaries and tobacco lounges. 

Social Equity Dispensaries

An integral part of this law favors minority ownership by rewarding those disproportionately hurt by the war on drugs. The industry is still predominantly run by wealthy white males. Now, they get an opportunity to compete in the open cannabis market on New Year’s Day. Ironically, anti-cannabis groups have used the lack of minority representation as a criticism of the industry.

According to Hutchinson, the slow rollout will allow the growth of social justice programs. We will have to wait and see on the effectiveness of this strategy.  She also pointed out that product shortages are common at the opening of any new legal marijuana market.

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