Freedom rings in the New Year, as tens of thousands of cannabis fans in the Land of Lincoln are expected to brave freezing pre-dawn temperatures in Chicago and across Illinois to smoke a piece of state history.
On Jan. 1, 2020, as early as 6 a.m. Central Standard Time, the doors open on a new era for cannabis, as the Prairie State initiates commercial sales to all adults over 21 and older with valid ID.
The United States’ 11th legalization state is also the first to regulate retail sales through a legislative process. That makes this rollout among America’s most fully baked, since it relies on the existing medical cannabis system to serve adult-use customers swiftly and reliably.
Here’s what Illinois’ roughly one million cannabis consumers—and millions more visitors—need to know.
Where to buy: Illinois dispensaries open New Year’s Day
Thirty stores have state licenses to start adult-use sales on Jan. 1, 2020, and 27 are ready to go with local approval on opening day. They are:
|The Clinic Mundelein||1325 Armour Boulevard Mundelein, Illinois 60060 (847) 616-8966|
|3C Compassionate Care Center – Joliet||1627 Rock Creek Blvd. Joliet, IL 60431 (815) 773-9300|
|3C Compassionate Care Center – Naperville||1700 Quincy Ave. #103 Naperville, IL 60540 (630) 369-4000|
|The Clinic Effingham||1101 Ford Ave. Ste. C Effingham, IL 62401|
|Salveo Health & Wellness Dispensary||3104 N. Main Street Canton, Illinois 61520|
|Phoenix Botanical Dispensary||1704 S Neil St. C Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 441-2076|
|MedMar / aka Sunnyside||2696 McFarland Rd Rockford, IL 61107 (815) 314-1900|
|MedMar / aka Sunnyside||3812 N Clark St. Chicago, IL 60613 (773) 698-8182|
|PDI Medical Dispensary||1623 Barclay Blvd, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089(224) 377-9734|
|FloraMedex||7955 W. Grand Ave. Elmwood Park, IL 60707 (708) 452-7688|
|Mapleglen Care Center||4777 Stenstrom Rd. Rockford, IL 61109 (779) 368-5154|
|Dispensary33||5001 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60640 (312) 620-3333|
|Maribis of Springfield||2272 North Grand Ave. East Grandview, IL 62702 (217)-503-4296|
|Maribis of Chicago||4570 S. Archer Ave. Chicago, IL 60632 (888) 888-5501|
|Verilife||161 S. Lincolnway Ste 301 North Aurora, IL 60542 (630) 264-0890|
|Verilife||1816 S. Arlington Heights Rd. Arlington Heights, IL 60005 (847) 755-2992|
|Verilife||4104 Columbus St. Ottawa, IL 61350 (815) 234-9189|
|Verilife||1335 Lakeside Dr. Unit 4 Romeoville, IL 60446 (630) 359-3213|
|Verilife||1804 Maple Ave. Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 424-0140|
|MOCA Modern Cannabis||2847 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 722-6622|
|New Age Care||2015 E. Euclid Ave. Mt. Prospect, IL 60056 (224) 801-2015|
|Harbory||8195 Express Dr. Marion, IL 62959 (618) 969-8217|
|Columbia Care||4758 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60630 312-948-9082|
|HCI Alternatives||1014 Eastport Plaza Dr. Collinsville, IL 62234 618-381-9229|
|HCI Alternatives||628 E. Adams St. Springfield, IL 62701 217-679-3283|
|Mission Illinois||8554 S. Commercial Ave. Chicago, IL 60617 833-768-4357|
|Nature’s Treatment||973 Tech Dr. Milan, IL 61264 309-283-1642|
|Herbal Remedies Dispensary||44440 Broadway St. Ste. 1 Quincy, IL 62305 217-214-6337|
|EarthMed||852 S. Westgate St. Addison, IL 60101 630-607-0796|
|The Herbal Care Center||1301 S. Western Ave. Chicago, 60608 773-724-4200|
Illinois recreational cannabis prices
On day one, expect long lines for top-shelf prices, due to high demand and limited initial supplies; like a new iPhone launch.
Eighth-ounces of dried cured flower buds will go for $50-$60 plus tax, operators report. Think of it more as a novelty purchase than a trip to Costco. Rest assured, those prices will eventually come down. Every legal state opened with high prices that settled to find a more reasonable market level within a few months.
Wherever prices wind up, analysts predict that Illinois’ legal market might one eventually total $2 billion per year.
Illinois cannabis taxes
Taxes total an average of about 30% and go higher for higher-THC products. All adult-use products are subject to the state’s 6.75% sales tax. On top of that, expect:
- 10% cannabis purchaser tax for products that consist of up to 35% THC
- 20% purchaser tax on edibles that are more than 35% THC
- 25% purchaser tax on extracts more than than 35% THC
- local city taxes up to 3%; or local county taxes up to 3.75%
Illinois recreational cannabis products, supplies
This advanced medical cannabis market will have all your typical licensed and tested adult-use cannabis products, including flower, edibles, extracts, vape pens, topicals, and tinctures. But there are fewer than 20 farms in the state, controlled by 15 companies.
“We’ll have the full range of products on day one,” said Kris Krane, operator of Mission Illinois—the only adult-use dispensary expected to be open on day one in Chicago’s south side. “It won’t be what you would find in California or Colorado, but we have a very good variety, particularly for Illinois.”
Supplies are sure to dip in the New Year before surging. Illinois has an estimated 956,640 cannabis consumers, but most won’t enter the legal market immediately.
Krane also says that day one shoppers should expect to encounter purchase limits lower than the state’s official one-ounce-per-day legal limit. Stores will likely be limiting how much cannabis consumers can purchase to ensure they can serve the most customers from their current limited supply.
“We want to make sure we don’t have to close on day one,” he said. “There are major supply constraints in Illinois right now.”
Based on past state launches, many stores could see more than 1,000 shoppers on day one. Those 27 open stores could see an average of about a $100 sale per customer, so the industry could gross about $2.7 million on day one, with roughly $675,000 in taxes; enough for about 16 annual teacher salaries in Illinois.
Illinois marijuana laws
In many ways, Illinois has set the template for the legalization bills coming to future states in the Midwest and East Coast.
- Adults 21+ can buy, transport, store, and use personal amounts of cannabis and pipes
- No underage sales, gifts, possession, or use
- Possession limits are 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of extracts, and edibles with a total of up to 500 mg THC. Non-Illinois residents can have half those amounts
But with freedom comes responsibility.
- Driving or boating high remains illegal
- Home cultivation (without a medical marijuana card) remains illegal and carries a $200 fine
- Possessing 100 grams or more is still a felony
- Unlicensed sales of 10 grams or more is a felony
- And Illinois mandates a six-year minimum prison sentence for selling or transporting 10 pounds of marijuana; a so-called “Class X” felony.
In 2016, Illinois police made 32,773 marijuana arrests, 42% of all drug offense arrests. Those arrest numbers should drop, but both police and citizens must adapt.
Can Illinois tourists buy marijuana?
Tourists from other states can go to, purchase at, and take cannabis from Illinois dispensaries.
Visitors can legally possess half the amount a resident can: 15 grams of flower, 2.5 grams of extract, and edibles totaling up to 250 mg THC. That works out to about a two-week supply for a daily smoker.
In 2017, Illinois had 114 million visitors, about 10% of which are past-month or past-year cannabis users. This makes tourism a major part of Illinois’ estimated $2 billion mature cannabis market.
Taking marijuana out of Illinois
Don’t do it. Law enforcement officials in neighboring states have promised to enforce local state law, even on Illinois residents merely cutting through a neighboring state while holding cannabis. Police also remain on high holiday season alert for signs of intoxicated driving.
You can still lose your job, your home, or your access to education for cannabis use. The fight’s not over.
Illinois law allows employers to use unscientific drug testing to discriminate against responsible cannabis users. Restrictions on cannabis use apply in public housing and condos. “We need to address all those issues and more in the coming year,” said Chicago NORML Executive Director Edie Moore.
Of course, you can’t use cannabis in public, and that includes a bus, train, school, restaurant, bar, or park—any public place, including your front porch. Back porches are OK. Licensed lounges became legal in December, but won’t open until later in 2020.
“It’s not something new. People are consuming already. But we really need folks to understand that you can’t just be in the park lighting up a doobie. It’s still illegal to do that,” said Moore.
Illinois medical cannabis
Illinois has 87,000 qualified medical cannabis patients and 55 licensed dispensaries.
Thirty of those licensees can sell adult-use marijuana.
Regulations require medical stores to set aside adequate supplies for patients. However, Illinois medical cannabis patient rolls doubled in 2019 and supplies have not fully kept pace, meaning that patients are already reporting shortages of particular products.
Due to ongoing shortages, Krane expects some dispensaries that are licensed to sell adult-use cannabis will only offer medical supplies in early 2020—at least until production catches up.
Illinois has fewer than 20 licensed farms and is rapidly adding new ones to meet an estimated 714,161-pound annual demand for cannabis when the market is mature.
“It’s going to take two years to really fully scale up to meet demand,” said Krane.
Illinois social equity provisions
The Land of Lincoln stands on the shoulders of past legalization efforts with the strongest-ever rules to ensure drug war victims profit from the peace, said Moore, for Chicago NORML. “That was our legislative intent from the very beginning,” she said.
Existing medical dispensary owners made unprecedented payments into an equity fund in order to begin serving adult-use customers Jan. 1. That fund supports low-income, minority business loans to applicants currently applying for earmarked licenses. The legal industry is also anticipated to create tens of thousands of jobs across the state.
Any fun activities planned?
Leafly is tracking underground parties the day and night before. On the morning of January 1, a few dispensaries will open at 6 a.m., and most will open by 9 a.m., with many offering some amount of specials plus food, drinks, and music. For example, Dispensary 33 will use a paging system, “similar to a busy restaurant,” said Abigail Watkins for Dispensary 33. “Neighboring bars and restaurants will be open with brunch specials, coffee, etc. so folks can wait inside local businesses instead of forming a line in the cold.”
The operators of Sunnyside dispensary—near Wrigley Field (currently called MedMar)—also plan to fete customers. They’ve taken over a neighboring coffee shop to keep folks out of the cold while their staff prepares orders.