Illinois' first day of legal recreational marijuana sales brought in $3.2 million in revenue, the state's Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced on Thursday.
On Wednesday — New Year's Day — Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana sales after having had a medical marijuana program for a couple of years prior. And at dispensaries across the Land of Lincoln, thousands of people lined up for the chance to be among the first people to purchase pot legally within the state's borders, without a physician's recommendation.
In Springfield, two-hour lines stretched across downtown streets as shoppers waited for the chance to legally purchase weed at Illinois Supply & Provisions. In suburban Chicago, Arnold Winslow waited nearly two hours to purchase pot at Sunnyside dispensary, he tells Chicago's WMAQ-TV.
"I wanted to be first in line because I have waited 46 years for this moment," he said.
In Collinsville, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, hundreds of people waited as much as five hours for the chance to buy pot at Illinois Supply & Provisions' sister location, the only dispensary licensed to sell "adult-use" cannabis in Metro East (that is, the St. Louis suburbs on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River). So long was the line, as St. Louis' KSDK-TV reports, that by Wednesday evening, employees had to turn people away.Similar scenes were reported all across Illinois.
Now, the numbers are in. When the dust had settled, 77,128 transactions had taken place at cannabis dispensaries around Illinois, generating $3,176,256.71 on the first day of legal recreational sales.
Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser to the governor for cannabis control, called Wednesday a "milestone," in a companion WMAQ report.
"As we start a new decade, Illinois has achieved a monumental milestone — launching the legalization of cannabis in a way that includes communities left behind for far too long, creates good jobs and expunges thousands of records for those who have lost out on opportunities and ends prohibition," she said.
The day was not without its hiccups, however. Many customers left dispensaries with sticker shock, as a stark imbalance between supply and demand caused prices to be extraordinarily steep.
Pamela Althoff, executive director of the Springfield-based Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, said she believes that situation will sort itself out as the novelty and excitement wear off and, more importantly, the supply of new cannabis gets harvested and distributed.
"We hope that down the line it will become less expensive," she said.