As Illinois prepares to follow through with their recreational marijuana rollout, Marijuana Business Daily reports the state’s biggest increase in medical cannabis sales throughout the program’s history.
Medical patients already enjoy some major advantages over the upcoming recreational market, which is why it is bizarre that, historically, recreational marijuana takes a huge chunk out of medical sales.
But Illinois’ case completely flies in the face of these trends. On the surface, it seems like the sales increase is related to legalization. In fact, that may very well be the case. But if we look at it from a broader perspective, legalization may not be the only cause – if at all.
One notable change is the sheer number of patients that enrolled in the past year. In August, 2018, 44,000 registered patients. By August of 2019, this practically doubled, hitting 83,000.
The patient count also includes 2,500 people who are enrolled in the state’s new opioid alternative pilot program.
Medical marijuana sales are also impressive. According to Marijuana Business Daily:
“Through the first eight months of 2019, sales of [medicinal marijuana] in the state totaled nearly $150 million – already topping sales recorded for the entirety of 2018 – and are on pace to break $240 million by the end of the year.”
On the surface, this seems like a rock solid case that recreational legalization is boosting medical cannabis sales in Illinois, but there are other factors involved.
Aside from the obvious move to legalize marijuana, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker made some smaller reforms.
In October of 2018, the governor made it easier to access medical cannabis. He eliminated background checks and fingerprint collection as requirements to obtain a prescription.
The following August, Pritzker permanently established the state’s medical marijuana program. He also expanded the list of qualifying conditions, opening the door for a broader group of patients.
Naturally, it is safe to assume that these changes had a huge part to play and are likely much more responsible for the medical cannabis increase than legalization on its own.
Benefits of Purchasing Medical Marijuana
Although Illinois may eventually succumb to the common trend of seeing medical sales decline, the differences between the two markets might entice patients to stay.
First of all, medical recipients get a much better deal. In Illinois, recreational users will pay 25 to 35% tax on each purchase, depending on the product. Medical patients, on the other hand, pay only 1% tax.
Analysts also expect a shortage in the early days of legalization. In situations like these, medical marijuana users get priority. This, according to Marijuana Business Daily, could reduce the rate in which medical sales fall.
But ultimately, experts agree that the medical program’s days of bounty are numbered.
WeedAdvisor’s Anticipation for the Illinois Cannabis Market
As Illinois inches its way closer to establishing a legal industry, the need for a reliable, accurate efficient system should be on everyone’s minds.
Retailers and licensed producers face some great opportunities, but these come with major challenges. There will be new rules to navigate, larger harvests to deal with and a slew of other concerns that nobody can afford ignore.
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