Illinois’ medical marijuana program continues to grow steadily, according to the latest sales figures from Illinois’ Department of Public Health.
Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program appears to be hitting its stride after once again breaking its record for monthly medical marijuana sales, reaching more than $3.8 million in September. The state’s program, on the books since August 1, 2013, had been severely hindered by red tape issues from its beginning, causing an extremely slow rollout.
Despite the program’s laborious start, medical marijuana sales and registered patient numbers have been steadily growing over the past year. The state has continued its record-breaking medical marijuana sales over the past three months, with $2.9 million in sales in July and $3.3 million in August before hitting its most recent peak of $3.8 million. In February, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) had approved just 4,400 applications. As of October 5, the number of qualifying patients approved by the IDPH had grown to 11,100.
With the latest monthly sales figures, the total medical marijuana retail sales in Illinois grew to $21.8 million for the year. The sales figures blow out early estimates by ArcView Market Research, which had projected that Illinois would have $15.6 million in retail cannabis sales for 2016. A more recent report by Marijuana Business Daily projected the state’s annual retail totals to reach between $25 million and $35 million, but thanks to recent rulings, there’s a chance sales could exceed even those projections with three months still to go in the year.
The state could soon experience another boom in approved patients, as both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-operative chronic pain have been recently added to the state’s list of qualifying medical marijuana conditions. The IDPH and its director Dr. Nirav Shah had ignored recommendations from the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to add the conditions, but a judge ruled that the rejections were inappropriate and required that the conditions be added. Seven additional lawsuits have already been filed by Illinois residents who want their disease or disorder added to the program’s list of qualifying conditions, which depending on the rulings could further expand the number of patients eligible for the program.
Illinois is one of 25 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana, while four states are set to vote on medicinal cannabis initiatives this coming November. Under the Illinois law, qualified patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a 2-week period. Doctors can only recommend medical marijuana to patients they have an established history of treating.
According to the sales figures recently released by the IDPH, the $3.8 million in September medical cannabis sales included $2.2 million in dry flower sales and $1.6 million in concentrates and infused products. The state now has 45 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state. While the pilot program was originally scheduled to expire in 2018, this summer Gov. Bruce Rauner approved legislation to extend the program to at least July 2020.