- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2020

Marijuana shops in Illinois reported more than $44 million in recreational sales last month, regulators said Thursday, setting a new state record some ascribe to the coronavirus crisis.

Recreational marijuana sales for the month of May totaled $44,317,385.72, according to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The sum marks the most the state’s pot shops have sold in a single month since Illinois began letting dispensaries sell recreational, or adult-use, marijuana at the start of 2020.

Illinois residents were responsible for a majority of last month’s record-setting sales, according to the state. More than three-quarters of the sales were made by Illinoisans.

Customers from out-of-state also spent their fair share at marijuana shops in Illinois, which does not touch any of the other eight states in the country that allow retail pot sales. More than $10 million of last month’s sales, or around 23%, involved purchases made by residents of other states, according to the numbers.

Illinois voted last year to legalize the use of marijuana, which is federally outlawed, and paved the way for adults to legally buy retail pot from licensed shops effective Jan. 1.

More than $39 million worth of recreational marijuana was sold in Illinois during the first month of sales, setting a record that lasted until the newest figures were released.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, stakeholders in the state’s recreational marijuana industry attributed May’s record-setting sales partially to COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the unprecedented business restrictions that temporarily shuttered countless establishments across Illinois but spared its dispensaries.

A spokesperson for Cresco Labs, a company that owns several dispensaries in the state, noted that measures implemented in response to the pandemic resulted in customers being able to shop online, the Tribune reported. “There was more for people to buy, and it was easier to buy,” said Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes, according to the newspaper.

The vice president of store development for Green Thumb Industries, another company that runs several dispensaries in the state, similarly attributed the spike in sales to stores permitting “curbside pickup,” the newspaper noted, which has effectively allowed customers to purchase recreational marijuana without leaving their car.

Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois during February, March and April averaged roughly $36 million each month, according to the state regulatory department.

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