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After Slow Start, Illinios’ Medical Marijuana Market Set to Hit $25 Million in 2016

Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program is on target to bring in between $25 million to $35 million in sales this year, showing it may just survive after its treacherous beginning. Despite Illinois’ initial struggles with its medical marijuana pilot program, the state is expected to bring in $25 to $35 million in sales by the end of 2016, the Marijuana Business Daily is reporting. Illinois has had medical marijuana legislation on the books since the state’s previous governor, Pat Quinn, signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act on August 1, 2013. The five-year program, set to end in 2018, was meant to allow patients of 39 various conditions to legally purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over 2 weeks, provided they had a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor with an established history of treating the patient. Red tape issues, however, have caused the program to experience a severely slow rollout. As of February 2016, the state’s Department of Public Health had only approved 4,400 applications since it began accepting them in September of 2014. Because the number of approved patients was so low, the 23 original dispensaries throughout the state were at risk of closing before the program really started. A report by ArcView Market Research predicted that Illinois would only do $15.6 million in retail cannabis sales in 2016. Since the slow start, however, medical cannabis sales in Illinois have shot upwards, jumping up 83 percent since January. In April alone, the state brought in $2.2 million. Illinois is now on pace to reach $25 million in sales, but Marijuana Business Daily notes that the yearly total could be close to $35 million if the state continues its 20 percent month-over-month sales increases. The much-needed recent boost in sales is the inevitable result of the increase in the number of patients approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. As of the first of May, 6,200 patients had qualified for medical marijuana cards, and an average of 700 to 800 more patients are being approved each month. Additionally, the state had jumped up to having 36 registered dispensaries, though some had still yet to open. The increase in approved patients and sales aren’t the only signs that Illinois’ medical marijuana program may be finally finding its way out of the bureaucratic weeds. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who had previously rejected adding to the list of qualifying conditions, announced this week that he supports extending the pilot program to 2020 and expanding it to include post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness. Supporters believe an extension is necessary after the initial delay in sales. The agreement must still be approved by the Legislature. Supporters of the state’s pilot program hope the market growth continues, as the numbers are still not where they need to be for the program to be successful. On average, dispensaries are pulling in an average of just $40,000 to $60,000 a month, according to Marijuana Business Daily, and business owners have said the program needs to approve at least 20,000 to 30,000 patients by early 2017 for businesses to sustain.]]>