CHICAGO — Despite a looming public health emergency and a statewide order shuttering nonessential retailers, legal sales of recreational marijuana in Illinois increased slightly in March compared with February, state regulators said.

Cannabis customers spent nearly $36 million, before taxes, at the state’s pot shops last month. That represents an increase of more than $1 million compared with the prior month, according to figures from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The figures do not include marijuana sold to medical cannabis cardholders.

Although nearly 20,000 fewer individual items were sold in the third month of cannabis legalization in Illinois, they had higher average prices. And while sales to out-of-state residents decreased, the increase from Illinoisans more than made up for the decline.

During the first quarter of adult-use cannabis sales, nearly $110 million of marijuana products were sold. Total tax revenue numbers were not immediately available but likely exceed $25 million.

“Three straight months of consistent adult use cannabis sales show there is — and will continue to be — strong support and demand from consumers,” Toi Hutchinson, the governor’s senior cannabis adviser, said in a Thursday release announcing the March sales totals.

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The marijuana industry in Illinois is among those declared “essential” under the stay-at-home order issued March 20 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Pritzker’s executive order included both adult-use and medical elements of the industry to ensure cultivators continue to produce adequate supplies for patients, according to his administration.

After issuing a disaster declaration last month, Pritzker’s administration loosened restrictions on sales to medical marijuana patients.

Dispensaries are allowed to sell cannabis on adjacent sidewalks and curbs to patients or their authorized caregivers as long as certain security measures are followed.

“To ensure medical users are able to access they product they need during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, curbside pickup will remain an option for medical patients through April 30th,” Hutchinson said.

Cannabis Industry Deemed ‘Essential’ During Coronavirus
First-Month Marijuana Sales Generate $10.5 Million In Taxes
Nearly $40 Million In Legal Weed Sold In First Month
$20 Million Spent On Recreational Weed In Illinois In 12 Days

Delivery remains forbidden, and rules for recreational sales were unchanged. Some dispensaries have halted recreational sales or put restrictions in place to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

State Rep. Sonya Harper, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored Illinois’ marijuana legalization legislation and has introduced a bill to allow cannabis dispensaries to deliver, has called on Pritzker to take immediate action to allow allow municipalities the option of allowing cannabis deliveries, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

States with legal marijuana have seen sales booming during the coronavirus pandemic, with some seeing sales spike by as much as 20 percent, according to Politico. Nearly all 33 states with recreational or medical marijuana sales have deemed dispensaries an essential service, in line with pharmacies, liquor stores and and grocers.

In his first executive order related to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pritzker extended the deadline for cannabis grower, infuser and transporter license applications to April 30 and allowed applicants to mail them in, rather than requiring hand delivery. State regulators said they are still on track to issue new licenses by July 1.

Total amount of pre-tax sales of adult-use cannabis for the first three months after the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act took effect in Illinois:

Items Sold IL Residents Out-Of-State Total Sales
Jan. 972,045 $30,611,632.22 $8,636,208.61 $39,247,840.83
Feb. 831,600 $25,615,371 $9,189,701.01 $34,805,072.01
March 812,203 $27,096,931.23 $8,805,611.99 $35,902,543.22

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