Illinois marijuana retailers set new monthly sales records to close out 2023, selling $181.8 million worth of cannabis products during December, including a record $153.9 million in adult-use purchases. Sales of medical marijuana in December were at their highest since April, at $27.9 million.
All told, legal cannabis sales for 2023 set a new annual record, reaching just under $2 billion, including more than $1.6 billion from the state’s adult-use market, which launched four years ago.
Recreational marijuana sales generated $417.6 million in tax revenue for the state in 2023, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
“From day one, my administration has put equity first to build the most accessible cannabis industry in the nation,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said in a press release announcing the fiscal data on Thursday. “Our work will continue to repair past harm while providing opportunities for communities across the state and creating a more prosperous future.”
“The legalization of adult use cannabis was the start of uplifting the communities most impacted by the failed war on drugs,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) said. “The benefits from these sales will be used to continue investing in our economic growth in historically disinvested populations.”
The new records come after a more minor one set in November: the most-ever marijuana sales to in-state residents, as reported by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Last month’s new numbers set yet another record for purchases from state residents, coming in at $117.9 million.
Consumers purchased 4,213,747 individual adult-use marijuana products in December, also a new monthly record. In all of 2023, 42,124,741 items were sold in Illinois recreational cannabis dispensaries.
In terms of medical marijuana, just over half of total sales (53.7 percent) for December came from concentrates or infused products, at $15.0 million. Flower made up 46.3 percent of total sales, at $12.9 million.
Meanwhile, overall medical marijuana sales have also totaled nearly $2 billion since dispensaries opened in November 2015.
In an annual report from October about fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30 of last year, state officials said that state-legal marijuana sales had seen “unprecedented” growth, with the opening of 28 new retailers and more than $1.5 billion in total recorded retail sales.
In terms of state revenue, the legal cannabis industry brought in about $451.9 million for Illinois in fiscal year 2023, according to separate numbers from the Department of Revenue. As in past years, Illinois made significantly more revenue from cannabis than from alcohol, which brought in about $316.3 million during the same period.
Over the entire fiscal year, 200 conditional licenses were issued. In December 2022, the department also finalized rules for a new Social Equity Criteria Lottery, aimed at prioritizing people who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. More than 2,600 individuals applied for 55 new social equity dispensary licenses.
The vast majority of newly issued licenses were in Cook County, the state’s most populous.
Another recent report, from the state’s Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer, indicated that diversity numbers in the marijuana industry are up significantly since adult-use sales began—a sign that efforts in recent years to prioritize social equity license applicants is making a measurable impact.
When recreational marijuana sales began in 2020, the “initial businesses were 100% majority White owned and only one majority woman-owned businesses,” said the office’s diversity survey report. Since then, measures of diversity have improved markedly.
Among the key changes, Black-owned companies increased from 0 percent to 27 percent of the market during the period from 2020 to 2023, while Latino/a or Hispanic-owned companies climbed from 0 percent to 5 percent. Asian-owned companies, went from 0 percent to 3 percent. Women-owned businesses, meanwhile, now make up 16 percent of licensed cannabis companies.
Small craft cannabis growers, however, are reportedly struggling despite millions in state aid.
While records indicate that Illinois consumers are paying considerably more than cannabis purchasers in many other legal states, Pritzker recently downplayed the steep prices, noting the industry’s steady growth and considerable sales to out-of-state residents.
Last month, the governor also signed a bill into law waiving application fees for existing marijuana transporter organizations until January 1, 2027.