Missouri’s new customer-friendly legal recreational cannabis cuts into Illinois market


Illinois got off to a three-year head start in legalizing recreational marijuana, but in many ways Missouri surpassed it in just one month.

The two states have very different legalization processes, and as a result the laws in each state are also very different. That means Missouri is cutting into the Illinois market.

In February, the first month of legal sales, legal marijuana sales in Missouri totaled $103 million.

In Illinois, sales to out-of-state shoppers fell 15% during that time, and stores near Missouri dropped as much as 30%, reports market analyst Cantor Fitzgerald. This is important because sales to out-of-state residents account for nearly one-third of Illinois’ cannabis revenue.

Illinois surpassed Missouri in recreational sales at $120 million in February. However, sales in Illinois have plateaued somewhat recently, and have historically continued to grow even after legalization.

Missouri, unlike Illinois, offers home delivery, drive-thru windows, and deli-style services that allow customers to see and smell products before purchasing.

Chris Chelsea (right) lets customer Cameron Hill smell the flowers on March 15, 2023 at Starbuds Dispensary in University City, Missouri.

“People in Illinois are overwhelmed,” said Michael Lasry, who used to work at a medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri. “This is how it should be. It’s all a function of the competition.”

One reason Missouri’s rules are so different is that state voters approved the bill with 53% of the vote in November 2022, approving the legalization of recreational cannabis by referendum. Legalize effective recreational weed in 2020.

As a result, Missouri’s population of 6 million is only about half that of Illinois, but the Show Me State has nearly twice as many with over 200 licensed marijuana stores.

Missouri, which has legalized medical marijuana since 2018, has almost triple the number of licensed grow locations, allowing anyone over the age of 21 to grow it at home, but Illinois has medical marijuana. Only cannabis patients are allowed to grow their own weed.

Importantly for customers, Illinois products often cost $40 or more for an eighth gram of flower, part of the plant used by smokers. Missouri has what Kantor Fitzgerald says is the cheapest legal weed in the Midwest, and for an eighth gram he’s as low as $20.

Perhaps the most notable difference is that Missouri imposes a flat 6% tax on retail sales of marijuana. Illinois is 35% larger than he is.

An Illinois resident may own up to 30 grams of cannabis flowers, while a Missouri customer may own nearly three times that amount.

Andrew Bushrom prepares drive-thru orders at Greenlight Dispensary in Berkeley, Missouri, March 15, 2023.

In response to the Tribune’s question about interstate discrepancies, Illinois regulators issued a statement highlighting the state’s “social equity” licensees.

“We are committed to social justice so that those most affected by decades of harsh drug policies have a fair chance in the industry, not just the big companies run by the already wealthy big companies. That’s why we’ve issued 195 conditional and socially equitable pharmacy licenses to date, providing capital and other support to help these businesses get off the ground.”

“We have also issued 88 Craft Grow licenses, 100% of which are socially equitable. It’s also why we reinvested, which is possible because last year alone brought in $487 million in tax revenue, and our earnings continue to grow year after year.”

“As social equity dispensaries open their doors, record tax revenues, and money pours into communities facing historic investment failures, Illinois’s intentional and intentional cannabis legalization will continue. Our approach has paid off and we look forward to building on that success.”

However, due to delays in issuing licenses and funding smaller startups, only a handful of social equity businesses have opened.

On the other hand, the majority of white, male-owned cannabis businesses in Illinois have expanded into multi-state megacorporations that own a lot of cannabis. over 100 Nabeya in a state.

Sya Collins prepares an order March 15, 2023 at Starbuds Dispensary in University City, Missouri.

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Both states’ laws were created primarily by industry advocates to benefit existing medical marijuana producers by allowing them to quickly add recreational sales. plans to add micro-businesses to expand the diversity of

Missouri law allowed for automatic dismissal of most non-violent marijuana offenses, but Illinois legalized recreational weed in 2020, already killing hundreds of thousands of them. expunging such crimes.

A former pharmacy worker from Missouri, Russley lives near downstate Carbondale and contributes to cannabis websites. illinois news jointHe liked the Missouri market so much for its quality and variety that he got his medical marijuana card there, which the state allows for out-of-state residents.

Greenlight Dispensaries, which has 15 dispensaries and two growing facilities in Missouri, has been doing great business since becoming fully legal, said co-owner Tom Bommarito. He and his brother owned a car dealership, self-funded by partner and CEO John Mueller, who ran a cannabis business in Nevada.

Price is an obvious draw for Illinois residents, he said.

“They are coming to buy gasoline and cigarettes, why don’t we mow the grass?” he said. “It’s going to be a problem for Illinois because taxes are getting cheaper and cheaper.”

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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