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Recreational pot taxes top $100M in first 8 months

With cannabis businesses deemed essential in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, recreational pot sales have continued to rise in recent months.

The first batch of customers make their purchases at Rise Joliet. A new ordinance aims to streamline the zoning process to attract a flood of new cannabis license winners. Sun-Times file

Illinois tallied more than $100 million in tax revenues during the first eight months cannabis was fully legalized, state officials announced this week.

With pot businesses deemed essential in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, recreational cannabis sales have continued to rise in recent months. Those sales hit a new monthly high of more than $67 million in September, bringing the total sales to more than $431 million since January.

Between January and August, recreational weed sales brought in nearly $70 million in revenues through the state’s Cannabis Regulation Fund and an additional $36 million from state and local taxes, the Illinois Department of Revenue said Tuesday.

Almost half of the revenues collected through the Cannabis Regulation fund will be reinvested to fund communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war or directed to mental health and substance abuse programs. In addition, more than $16 million of the revenues will be sent to county and local governments as the state promised that there’s “more on the way.”

Starting in July, those government entities were allowed to impose an additional tax levy on recreational cannabis sales. That new funding will be doled out each month, with the first payout from July expected to be worth nearly $3 million.

“Thanks to those who have carefully overseen this brand-new industry’s successful launch in Illinois, revenue is flowing to local governments, to drug treatment programs and law enforcement, and being reinvested in our communities hit hardest by the failed policies of the past,” IDOR Director David Harris said in a statement.