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Long Lines Form on Illinois’ First Day of Recreational Cannabis Sales




New Year’s Day marked the first day of recreational cannabis sales in Illinois, and the turnout was outstanding.  According to local reports, lines formed up to several hours before dispensaries opened. While the overall outcome was positive, some customers were struck with sticker shock due to high taxes that add up quickly.

So far, about three dozen dispensaries have received adult-use licenses to sell recreational cannabis on Jan. 1. The same day, Gov. JB Pritzker granted 11,017 pardons to people with cannabis convictions that are no longer relevant. “We are ending the 50-year long war on cannabis,” he stated.

Pamela Althoff is executive director of the Springfield, Illinois-based Cannabis Business Association of Illinois. Althoff told The Associated Press that people waited up to three hours to purchase their first order of legal cannabis. “It has been joyous and well-run,” Althoff said. “People are extraordinarily courteous and civil.”

“We hope that down the line it will become less expensive,” she added. “The message from the industry is not promoting or opposing, it’s the state of Illinois made it legal and we’re here to provide a safe and a quality product for those who wish to consume. We encourage our customers to be responsible.”

Despite the initial excitement, adult-use purchases in Illinois are subject to Local County Tax, Local City Tax, Illinois Sales Tax and Illinois Recreational Excise Tax. Those taxes added up quick, leading many customers to post their receipts on social media, showing the outrageous prices.

One customer posted a receipt of a purchase of three grams of shatter that cost her over $300 after all taxes were added. Hundreds of other customers posted similar receipts with complaints about the current tax rate.

The high taxes also suggest high numbers of potential cannabis tax revenue that the state could reap. Cannabis sales could generate $250 million in tax revenue for Illinois by 2022, according to state financial experts.