Illinois recreational weed sales hit record $128 million in July

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ROBERT CHANNICK
Chicago Tribune

Illinois recreational weed sales hit a record $128 million in July, helped by a late-month boost from the Lollapalooza festival.

The blowout sales month — up 10% from the previous high of $116.4 million in May — included four days of booming business at Chicago-area cannabis dispensaries during the annual music festival, which returned to Grant Park last Thursday after a one-year pandemic hiatus.

Recreational weed was legal in Illinois for the first time in Lollapalooza’s 30-year history, with large crowds of festivalgoers boosting sales by as much as 50% at nearby dispensaries in River North and the West Loop, according to operators.

“We saw thousands of festivalgoers over the weekend at our River North store, making it our biggest weekend to date,” said Jason Erkes, spokesman for Chicago-based Cresco Labs, whose Sunnyside Dispensary in River North was the closest to the Grant Park festivities.

A new poll found 9 in 10 Americans say they support legalizing weed for medical or recreational use. But while states have made strides with marijuana reform, Washington has lagged behind. 


The $127.8 million in recreational marijuana sales statewide is up more than $12 million from June, according to a monthly report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Through July, the state has generated $753 million in recreational cannabis sales — more than all of last year.

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Illinois has yet to release medical marijuana sales for July.

In July, Illinois’ 110 dispensaries sold a record 2.8 million recreational weed products. In-state residents spent about $85 million, while sales to out-of-state customers topped $42 million, up 16% from June, according to the state.

“Summer tourism and the Lollapalooza attendees were strong contributors to July’s out-of-state sales,” Erkes said.

Launched in 1991, Lollapalooza put down roots in Chicago in 2005, becoming a major tourism draw for the city, attracting hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers and infusing millions into the local economy. Canceled last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s festival ran from July 29 to Aug. 1.

E-commerce cannabis platform Jane also reported a boost during Lollapalooza, with sales at 18 Chicago stores up nearly 6%, compared with the previous four weekends. While smoking is not permitted at Grant Park, prerolls saw the biggest sales increase at 27.5%, the company reported.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois in January 2020. Total sales reached $1.03 billion last year, including $669 million in recreational weed and more than $366 million in medical sales. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill last month awarding 185 new dispensary licenses with a social equity focus through three lotteries in July and August.

Illinois is one of 18 states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Cannabis research firm Headset projects legal U.S. weed sales to surpass $30 billion in 2022.

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August 4, 2021 at 05:48PM

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