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Mid-America Blog

Cannabis and COVID-19 in Illinois: March Update


By: Dan Tausk, Principal, Mid-America Real Estate Corporation

April 9, 2020

Illinois finished strong in the month of March (third month of adult-use with less than 50 dispensaries open) with another $34M total sales.  First quarter total sales were $110M for adult-use and $188M including medicinal sales.

But as with the rest of the retail world, much changed in late March and retail challenges remain high, including:

  • Illinois curbside pickup program and preorder suffering to execute efficiently
  • Establishing and maintaining dispensary staff safety/interactions with patients
  • Continued supply shortages and dispensary limitations on adult sales including hours of operation
  • Concern for the handling of money with low usage of CanPay or other “cashless” alternatives, and safe banking not imminent
  • Heavy unemployment will cause adult-use sales lag with no CARES Act eligibility for cannabis business.

Meantime, consumer patterns are changing due to COVID-19 with more sales of edibles and manufactured products versus flower sales (nervousness to smoke) taking an even larger leap than during recent vape crisis. COVID-19 and the statewide stay-at-home order caused “stock up” purchases increasing ticket size while decreasing the frequency of dispensary visits.  Finally, an increase in patient sign-ups continue at the steady pace displayed pre-January and adult-use legalization.

Illinois Expansion – Status

  • “Second Site” state licenses are beginning to be awarded on a case-by-case basis including the first two city sites in River North. Special use applications continue for city sites and opt-in suburbs, but the process has slowed due to low staffing.
  • With the state-established May 1st deadline looming for the awarding of 75 additional adult-use licenses – heavily social equity oriented – by the state, curiosity persists as to whether a delay will be announced.
  • A revised/extended deadline for “craft grow” and process licenses was announced for 60 days.No announcements have been made regarding relocations of dispensaries in opt-out communities.
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