The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) in Illinois has released its annual report, indicating unparalleled expansion in the state’s legal marijuana industry during fiscal year 2023. The substantial growth can be attributed to the opening of 28 new retailers, bringing total retail sales to $1.5 billion.
Compared to the initiation of the medical marijuana program in 2015 and adult-use legalization in 2020, this leap in expansion is unmatched. Consequently, the cannabis sector contributed around $451.9 million in revenue to the state throughout the fiscal year. Furthermore, the Department expects this upward trend to continue into the 2024 fiscal year.
New Retailers Engender Economic Benefits and Employment Opportunities
In the fiscal year, the number of conditional licenses granted reached 200, and new retail outlets totaled 28 across the region. Interestingly, these establishments are not affiliated with pre-existing same-site dispensaries or medical cannabis facilities. Providing numerous job opportunities, they have also helped increase diversity in the industry, within ownership and the workforce. Operating independently from previously established dispensaries, all 28 of the aforementioned retailers have majority ownership by veterans. Over half of them hold majority ownership by people of color, while almost 20% feature majority ownership by women.
Advancements Made in Diversity Goals
Following last year’s report that revealed a distinct lack of diversity within the Illinois legal cannabis industry, both in executive leadership and ownership—dominated mainly by white individuals—this year’s report displays significant progress. Although demographic data was not presented in the current report, it shows a positive shift in dispensary ownership, the workforce, and product offerings. Among the employees surveyed by the ongoing IDFPR state diversity survey, which the Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer initiated in May of this year:
- 26% classified themselves as people of color
- 48% identified as women or nonbinary
- 9% identified as having a disability
State’s Support Brings More Growth in Social Equity Licenses
Although the social equity retailers only functioned for a limited time during fiscal year 2023—beginning from the issuance of licenses on November 10, 2022—they managed to generate $57,647,366.56 in sales throughout that same timeframe. The Department has big plans for the fiscal year 2024: they aim to grant 55 social equity licenses, employ eight new inspectors and processors to encourage faster licensing approvals and enhance public outreach efforts.
August Sales Data Indicates Record-Breaking Start to Fiscal Year 2024
The current fiscal year began with record-breaking figures, with retail data showing astronomical sales of adult-use cannabis products totaling $140 million in August alone. Governor Pritzker demonstrated his support for the flourishing industry by signing a bill that enables licensed marijuana businesses to claim tax deductions at the state level. This move is considered a small solution to address Internal Revenue Service tax code 280E.
Illinois Economy Experiences Cannabis-Related Growth Benefits
Above all else, the significant expansion in the Illinois legal cannabis industry demonstrates its potential and how it can immensely benefit economic growth and job opportunities. With continued governmental support and policy adjustments catering to its swift progression, we can expect the cannabis sector in Illinois to reach even greater heights in the coming years.
Increased Diversity in Ownership and Employment Highlights Progress
The introduction of new retail outlets has helped shatter pre-existing industry norms when it comes to ownership demographics. With veterans, people of color, and women making up a significant portion of ownership in these new dispensaries, Illinois’s legal cannabis industry is witnessing progress toward diversification within its workforce as well. It is evidence that genuine change can be achieved within this rapidly growing sector with the right policies in place.