Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Program Steadily Grows, Reaches $2.9M in July

Illinois continued its record-breaking medical marijuana sales in July, bringing in $2.9 million for the month.

Illinois’ medical marijuana program reached an all-time retail sales high in July, the Chicago Tribune reports. The state, which began legal sales November 9, reached $2.9 million in July, up from $2.57 million in June. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), $1.79 million of retail sales came from dry flower sales, while $1.16 million came from concentrates and infused-products.

Throughout the month, the state’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries served nearly 5,900 unique patients. The 2016 total medical cannabis sales for Illinois in 2016 are now up to nearly $14.7 million.

The boost in sales is the causal result of the IDPH approving more patients. Since the IDPH began accepting applications for the Medical Cannabis Registry Program on September 2 of last year, as of February the department had approved only 4,400 applications. By May that number jumped up to 6,200, and as of this writing, the department has approved applications for a total of 8,891 qualifying patients.

The year’s sales totals already exceed those predicted by ArcView Market Research, which in a report had predicted Illinois would only do $15.6 million in retail medical cannabis sales in 2016. A more recent report from Marijuana Business Daily estimated the state would bring in $25 to $35 million in sales over the year.

It was just last June that Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation to extend the state’s medical marijuana program until July 2020. The bill also added post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the list of qualifying health conditions, but applications for the two conditions will not be accepted until the IDPH adopts emergency rules. The state’s retail sales are expected to jump again once those applications are approved.

The IDPH also recently added a new form to its website recently that allows doctors to certify a patient’s diagnosis rather than require physicians to recommend medical marijuana. Additionally, the department now allows terminally ill patients to apply for a medical marijuana card without a fee.

Illinois legalized medical marijuana in 2013, but legislative and logistical red tape prevented the program from really getting off the ground. It was initially set to expire next year but, with the recent 2-½ year extension, will now have a better chance of gaining ground. Under the law, approved patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over 2 weeks.

Illinois’ medical marijuana is cultivated and produced by secretive cultivation centers run by the state. The cannabis is then tested by independent labs to certify its potency and make sure it’s free of contamination before being distributed to dispensaries.

While the state’s program has been among the most restrictive in the U.S., the outlook is upbeat. Charles Bachtell, founder and CEO of one of the state-run cultivation centers, has said he expects the state’s medical cannabis program to reach more than 100,000 patients in its third year.

“The program is seeing significant growth and changed patients’ lives. There’s a great energy out there,” he claimed.

To learn more about Illinois’ cannabis laws, visit our education page.