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A store clerk makes a sale to a first costumer at Sunnyside Cannabis Dispensary on January 1, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The launch of recreational cannabis sales in Illinois was, if anything, too successful.

The state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported more than 77,000 legal recreational cannabis transactions occurred on Jan. 1, and sales were close to US$3.2 million.

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U.S. legalization tracker: Illinois

After five days of legal sales, the statewide total surpassed US$11-million.

As much as US$2.5 billion worth of legal weed could be sold in The Prairie State every year, according to estimates from Marijuana Business Daily, with as many as 500 retail locations servicing the market. Only 37 retailers have been authorized for recreational sales as of early January, though state regulators have said 75 stores will be approved by the end of May.

Several stores were forced to close just days after sales commenced on January 1st as demand overwhelmed supply. Other stores had to set buying limits in an attempt to serve as many customers as possible.

There are currently 21 authorized cannabis cultivation facilities in Illinois and various reports have said their output alone is not sufficient to satisfy demand. The state government has said in the past that it will issue more cultivation and retail licenses in the future, though it has yet to release a specific timeline.

Publicly-traded companies such as Columbia Care, Cresco Labs and Green Thumb Industries are especially well-positioned to take advantage of an expanding Illinois cannabis market, Beacon Research argues. All three companies had previously operated medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, which allowed them to be among the first recreational retail outlets as well.

Cannabis Professional’s guide to U.S. legalization efforts

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