Illinois Marijuana Sales Hit $135 Million In July, Second Highest Total Since Adult-Use Market Launch | Big Indy News
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Illinois Marijuana Sales Hit $135 Million In July, Second Highest Total Since Adult-Use Market Launch



Illinois retailers sold more than $135 million worth of adult-use marijuana in July, the largest monthly sales total so far in 2022 and the second biggest month since sales first launched, the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced on Wednesday.

While the July sales figure is still about $2 million less than the state’s December 2021 peak, it’s a sizable monthly total during a year that saw cannabis purchases lag over the first few months.

Illinois marijuana shops sold 3,251,062 cannabis products worth a collective $135,658,291 in July. About $92 million in marijuana sales came from in-state residents, while $44 million was purchased by out-of-state visitors.

Interestingly, while the July sales numbers are somewhat lower than the December 2021 total, more individual cannabis items were sold last month than in December. That could signal developing trends, such as shifts in marijuana pricing or evolving consumer preferences for certain products.

Medical cannabis sales figures are reported separately by a different state agency, and aren’t accounted for in the new recreational data.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) recently touted the state’s marijuana sales and resulting tax revenue for the 2022 Fiscal Year. Illinois collected $445.3 million in tax dollars from $1.5 billion in cannabis sales during that period. That’s a 50 percent increase is cannabis tax dollars compared to the prior fiscal year.

Local governments received $146.2 in cannabis tax disbursements in the latest fiscal year, up 77 percent from the prior year.

While 2022 recreational marijuana sales have been generally stable since the December peak, that trend could change demonstrably since officials approved new social equity marijuana retailer licenses last month, representing what will be a significant expansion in the number of dispensaries once those businesses become operational.

The governor and other state officials have emphasized that they’re committed to ensuring that portions of tax revenue from the marijuana market go toward community reinvestment, as prescribed under the state’s legalization law.

In June, Illinois officials announced that the state is awarding $45 million in grants funded by marijuana tax dollars to support community reinvestment in areas “hardest hit by the failed war on drugs.”

That marks the second round of funding that’s being made available through the state’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established under Illinois’s adult-use cannabis legalization law.

Last year, state officials also put $3.5 million in cannabis-generated funds toward efforts to reduce violence through street intervention programs.

From last year’s sales, Illinois generated almost $100 million more in tax revenue from adult-use marijuana sales than from alcohol in 2021, state data found.

While state officials have consistently voiced their commitment to equity, legalization’s rollout hasn’t been without hiccups and frustration among would-be licensees. Illinois regulators have faced legal challenges over the way social equity licensing applications have been managed, with complaints about the lottery system that the state later said it would work to resolve.

A court order prohibited the state from approving additional recreational cannabis shops for nearly a year before that decision was lifted in May. With the ban removed, officials announced late last month that they accepted new marijuana retailer licenses for social equity applicants.

In addition to providing community reinvestment funding, the governor announced in 2020 that his office had processed more than 500,000 expungements and pardons for people with low-level cannabis convictions on their records.

Pritzker also recently signed a bill that will make it so courts cannot deny petitions to expunge or seal records based on a positive drug test for marijuana.

A state-funded initiative was also recently established to help residents with marijuana convictions get legal aid and other services to have their records expunged.

It’s these types of initiatives that Toi Hutchinson recently told Marijuana Moment that she’s most proud of as she transitioned from being Pritzker’s cannabis advisor to the president of the national advocacy group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

State Lawmakers Across The U.S. Call For Federal Marijuana Legalization And Banking Reform In Revised Resolution

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Nevada Marijuana Regulators Announce Lotteries For State’s First Consumption Lounge Licenses



Nevada marijuana regulators announced on Wednesday that they will be holding lotteries at the end of the month to select 20 independent cannabis consumption lounge licensees, half of which will be reserved for social equity applicants.

The state Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) said it will conduct “two drawings via a random number selector” on November 30 to determine which businesses will be the first to receive approval for independent consumption lounge licenses.

“The CCB anticipates the first lounges to be licensed and able to open during the first half of 2023,” a notice says.

Regulators said earlier this month that they received about 100 applications for the new license type during a 10-day application window in October.

These developments come more than a year after Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed a bill from Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D) legalizing consumption lounges.

Current retailers are able to apply for a separate license category to build lounges into their existing operations, and they are not subject to a competitive selection process. The lotteries are for independent lounge licenses for businesses that want to enter into a contract with a retailer to purchase and prepare ready-to-consume marijuana products for resale at brand new facilities.

CCB approved regulations for marijuana lounges over the summer. The law could also allow businesses that couple cannabis with yoga, serve infused food, offer THC-aided massage therapy or incorporate marijuana in other ways.

The governor touted Nevada’s lounge law in a 4/20 op-ed for Marijuana Moment this year, writing: “The idea isn’t new, but no one is doing it like we are in Nevada.”

“While most of the consumption lounges in other states don’t offer food, beverages or other entertainment options,” he said, “Nevada’s lounges will be a one-stop entertainment shop to create jobs, grow the industry and boost our economy.”

Under the board-approved rules, consumption must be hidden from public view. Smoking and vaping must take place in a separate room of the lounge or be prohibited entirely. Single-use or ready-to-consume cannabis products can’t be brought off-site. And businesses must provide water to every guest free of charge.

The lounges will also be cannabis-only. No alcohol, tobacco or nicotine products can be sold.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Other safety-related regulations require lounges to establish plans to limit cannabis-impaired driving and minimize workers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. Guns are prohibited, surveillance is required and procedures must be in place to reduce and respond to potentially violent or harassing behavior.

Single-use cannabis products are limited to no more than 3.5 grams of usable cannabis under the regulations, with “extracted inhalable cannabis products” (such as vaping or dabbing products) limited to 300 milligrams of THC. All single-use products with more than 1 gram of usable cannabis, and all extracted inhalables, must carry written potency warnings.

Individual servings of ready-to-consume edible products are capped at 10 milligrams THC, a fairly standard amount in states that have legalized cannabis for adult use.

Topicals, meanwhile, are limited to 400 milligrams of THC. Transdermal patches and all other cannabis products can have no more than 100 milligrams THC and must carry a written warning if they have more than 10 milligrams.

Marijuana sales totaled just under $1 billion in Nevada in the 2022 Fiscal Year, generating more than $152 million in cannabis tax revenue, officials reported this month. Most of the proceeds are going toward funding schools.

The hope is that the cannabis lounge option will further stimulate sales when those services launch.

Sisolak has committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. In 2020, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession. That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Meanwhile, a Nevada judge ruled last month that the Board of Pharmacy’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance violates the state Constitution and that the agency “exceeded its authority” by making that designation.

The ACLU of Nevada filed a lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that despite voter-approved legalization police have continued to make marijuana-related arrests because the Board of Pharmacy has refused to remove cannabis from its controlled substances list.

That has effectively created a legal “loophole” that the civil rights group says conflicts with long-standing constitutional protections for medical marijuana patients.

Separately, in August 2021, a former Las Vegas police officer who sued after facing termination for testing positive for marijuana scored a significant procedural victory, with a district judge denying the department’s request for summary judgement and agreeing that state statute protects employees’ lawful use of cannabis outside of work.

Iowa Regulators Recommend Marijuana Task Force Be Formed To Explore Federal Exemption For State’s Medical Program

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Iowa Regulators Recommend Marijuana Task Force Be Formed To Explore Federal Exemption For State’s Medical Program



An Iowa regulatory board has voted to recommend that the legislature create a legal task force to explore seeking an exemption protecting the state’s limited medical cannabis program from federal interference.

At a meeting of the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board last week, activist Carl Olsen proposed the task force, which he said should bring legal experts together to “carefully review the state, federal and international drug laws to come up with an application for an exception” under federal statutes.

Olsen has long been pushing the state to submit such an application, and the legislature did pass a bill in 2020 that required the state to seek the protections. But following months of delay, the advocate filed a lawsuit against the governor last year to compel the state to move forward with the application, and one state department did subsequently take steps to reach out to federal agencies about the process.

Board member Robert Shreck said at last week’s meeting that Olsen “thinks that the state can obtain an exemption from the restrictions on cannabis and, as far as I can tell from reading what he’s done, and he’s been very persistent about this, I think he’s correct.”

“This is the pathway to proceed to do this,” he said. “It’s been done half-heartedly by some parts of our government…at least, it hasn’t gone forward and been successful. But I would whole-heartedly support Carl’s recommendation. And I would propose that the board make that recommendation.”

Owen Parker, bureau chief the Medical Cannabidiol Board at the Iowa Department of Public Health, made a motion to vote on including Olsen’s task force recommendation in the board’s annual report to the legislature, and it passed unanimously.

It’s another modest win for Olsen, whose earlier lawsuit against the governor generated headlines and seemed to motivate the public health department to send letters about a cannabis law exception to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Education.

In 2020, DEA rejected a request for an exemption that was submitted by Olsen himself, but he has been hopeful that the result would be different with the state formally involved.

DEA regulations stipulate that the agency’s administrator “may grant an exemption in his discretion, but in no case shall he/she be required to grant an exception to any person which is otherwise required by law or the regulations.”

Relatedly, the Hawaii legislature adopted a resolution last year seeking an exemption from DEA stipulating that the state is permitted to run its medical cannabis program without federal interference.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Back in Iowa, the board separately voted to recommend to the legislature that it passes legislation to exempt medical cannabis products from the state sales tax and decouple cannabis taxes from a federal code known as 280E that precludes businesses from making tax deductions if they sell a Schedule I controlled substance like marijuana.

At the beginning of the year, Iowa Democratic senators released the text of a joint resolution to put the question of cannabis legalization before voters on the state’s ballot, but that did not ultimately advance.

Sens. Joe Bolkcom (D), Janet Petersen (D) and Sarah Trone Garriott (D), who first unveiled their marijuana reform plan last year, had said that inaction on the issue in the GOP-controlled legislature meant they needed to pursue the alternative route to end prohibition.

A bill to decriminalize cannabis possession did clear an Iowa Senate subcommittee early last year, but it also stalled. Another Senate panel separately approved a bill to reduce medical cannabis patient registration costs last year.

Irish Lawmaker Files Bill To Legalize Marijuana Possession For Adults, Draws Early Criticism From Top Government Official

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Irish Lawmaker Files Bill To Legalize Marijuana Possession For Adults, Draws Early Criticism From Top Government Official



An Irish lawmaker has filed a bill to legalize marijuana possession nationwide for adults 18 and older—but a top government official has already raised concerns about the reform proposal.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny introduced the long-anticipated legislation on Thursday. It would legalize possession of up to seven grams of cannabis and 2.5 grams of marijuana resin for personal adult use.

The bill is currently before the Dáil Éireann, the lower chamber of Ireland’s legislature. It’s not clear if lawmakers from competing parties will work to advance it, but the the sponsor said that he expects the body to have a “wider debate” on cannabis reform “next year.”

“The bill itself is quite moderate. It’s amending existing legislation that dates back 42 years ago—and 42 years ago was a very, very long time,” Kenny said on the floor. “We need a different narrative in relation to drug reform, because criminalizing people for small possessions of any drug, particularly cannabis, is a complete waste of time and it’s a waste of resources.”

Watch Kenny discuss the marijuana legalization bill, starting around 4:15:00 into the video below:

While the sponsor has sought to distinguish the bill as decriminalization, rather than legalization, the bill itself says that possession of up to seven grams of marijuana by adults “shall be lawful,” even if there wouldn’t be a commercial market.

“I think there’s a groundswell of opinion, not only in Ireland, but across the world, for something very different—a different narrative and a different status quo, because the status quo at the moment doesn’t work,” he said.

Medical cannabis is legal in Ireland, but patients must be individually approved by the Health Ministry and there’s been some criticism of delays with the government’s rollout of the program, according to Volteface.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who serves as the head of Ireland’s government, has already signaled that he may represent a barrier to advancing the modest reform, warning about the consequences of “glamorizing” marijuana use ahead of the bill’s introduction.

The former health minister said that he’s “not necessarily” in favor of legalizing low-level possession and suggested that he considered the seven gram limit arbitrary, as The Independent reported. He also said “there are real concerns within the health community and the medical community about what cannabis can do to young people.”

“I will examine it and we will look at data and we’ll take advice from a number of disciplines—be it policing, be it health,” Martin said. “And certainly, I would prefer a system that decriminalizes in the sense that were there to help people with challenges with harmful substances such as cannabis.”

In an op-ed about his bill, Kenny pointed to a growing international movement to reform marijuana policies.

“There is precedent for Ireland to legislate for the decriminalization of cannabis for personal use,” he wrote. “Across the world countries are recognizing that prohibition of cannabis has not worked, it has only enriched and emboldened the black market.”

Indeed, marijuana reform efforts have picked up within governments of several European countries in recent years.

Germany’s Federal Cabinet recently approved a plan to legalize marijuana nationwide. But officials said that its fate ultimately rests in whether international and European policy allows the country to move ahead.

Over the summer, top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.

Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize marijuana late last year.

A novel international survey that was released in April found majority support for legalization in several key European countries.

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Image element courtesy of Ron Cogswell.

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