EYE ON ILLINOIS: 1st-half sales figures show pot is plenty popular in Illinois

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Marijuana consumers haven’t kept up their blazing New Year’s Day pace, but sales figures from the first half of 2020 show Illinois is indeed a hot marketplace.

June’s total beat May’s by more than $3.3 million. That gap was just a bit beyond the $3.1 million in sales reported on the first of the year, a figure that set Illinois on a pace to see more than $1.13 billion by New Year’s Eve. With trends developed over six months we’re actually seeing sales of close to $1.3 million per day and a monthly average so far pointing toward more than $478 million in annual sales.

Clearly we can’t make actual projections because consumer behavior could differ from July through December, to say nothing of how COVID-19 might have affected sales totals since mid-March. But judging strictly from a sales standpoint, these numbers have to be considered a success. Illinoisans are spending more than $1 million per day on a product they couldn’t legally buy last year and so far our stores have brought in nearly $57 million in sales from out-of-state shoppers.

The Illinois Department of Revenue hasn’t released updated figures on how these sales translate into government tax and fee revenue. County and municipal bodies have collected sales taxes all along, and gained the ability to implement additional sales taxes on these transactions as of July 1. Seeing those amounts, as well as how the funds are allocated through the Cannabis Regulation Fund — and any input from the criminal justice system on related enforcement issues — will paint a much cleaner picture of the degree to which this change affects government budgets going forward.

Still, early returns are quite impressive. Marijuana has never been one of my vices, but I’ve observed no downside to its legalization here and am hopeful the revenue infusion will benefit everyone going forward.

READER RESPONSE: Following Tuesday’s column about getting lawmakers back to Springfield, state Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, emailed to suggest the piece would’ve been stronger had I noted Republicans are leaning on Gov. J.B. Pritzker and legislative leaders — all Democrats — to call a special session.

Reick correctly noted the power imbalance in the General Assembly and noted “decision-making is based upon political calculation that competing ideas have very little chance to emerge.”

He’s correct: Democrats rarely need GOP votes to accomplish anything, but that’s no excuse to keep lawmakers out of the process altogether.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com

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via | Northwest Herald

July 8, 2020 at 01:36PM

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