Why the Worst Time for the Economy Was the Best Time for Illinois Dispensaries
In 2019, few people could predict that 2020 would start with a global pandemic, followed by a serious economic downturn. So when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law, no one could have predicted that cannabis would be one of the few Illinois industries to thrive at the beginning of the new year. The new law has made a big difference for the Illinois dispensaries.
Indeed, while other industries have ground to a halt in the wake of COVID-19, brand-new marijuana dispensaries around the state are thriving. In just the first three months of 2020, Illinois has sold over $110 million of weed products — despite the fact that many Illinoisans have been saying at home for weeks on end to prevent the spread of the virus. Why has this disastrous time for the economy proven to be such a successful time for Illinois marijuana dispensaries, and will this enthusiastic engagement continue after COVID disappears?
Marijuana Is Brand-new in the State
Perhaps the driving reason that the marijuana industry is booming in Illinois at this time in history is that recreational weed is brand-new in the state. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act went into effect in January, so Illinoisans have only had a few months to partake in legal cannabis — and it just so happens that the majority of those few months have coincided with the COVID-19 crisis.
Most states see a spike in interest in marijuana immediately following the legalization of cannabis products because residents see dispensaries and legal weed as a fun novelty. Plus, Illinois is somewhat unique in the Midwest for its legalization of recreational marijuana. Michigan is the only other state in the region to offer fully legal weed, so before stay-at-home mandates were put in place, Illinois saw an upsurge in tourism from residents of nearby states interested in purchasing products not available in their hometowns.
In most states, after the initial spike in purchasing, use levels out to a lower and more regular pattern, and it is highly likely that trend will occur in Illinois, as well. However, for the time being, Illinois dispensaries should enjoy the feeling of being new and exciting.
Marijuana Is Essential
Many businesses have shuttered completely in the wake of COVID-19, and others offer exceedingly limited hours and services to keep their employees and customers safe. In fact, many states have mandated that certain kinds of businesses close completely for at least a few weeks, during the height of the pandemic, to encourage consumers to stay home. However, not all businesses can shut down; people need access to food, for example, and healthcare supplies. As a result, some businesses have been labeled essential and are permitted to continue operations, given they conform to safety precautions.
Fortunately, in Illinois, both medical and recreational marijuana fall into this essential category. It makes sense: Medical marijuana is a legitimate medical treatment that many patients require for health and wellness, and recreational weed is a critical tool, like alcohol, to keep the population entertained and relaxed. In fact, access to marijuana has largely been expanded, with more dispensaries offering online ordering, curbside pickup, and even home delivery in some cases. Thus, while other businesses are suffering from restrictions and closures, the marijuana industry in Illinois has more opportunities for purchasing than ever.
Marijuana Passes the Time
The economy is suffering largely because people are cooped up in their homes, not engaging in typical consumer behavior and trying desperately to stay healthy. Unfortunately, buying things is a large element of American culture; it is how many people pass the time, keep their spirits up, and recognize forward progress. To fill that hole, many people are turning to substances — like marijuana.
Admittedly, public health officials advise against leaning too heavily on crutches like weed and booze during this trying time. Still, the fact remains that ganja is a great way to reduce anxiety and improve mood. Until the pandemic passes and Illinoisans are given the go-ahead to resume life as normal, many will likely continue to hit the bong hard — or else indulge in other weed treats.
It is impossible to predict how Illinois’s marijuana industry will function after COVID-19 — largely because we don’t know when “after” will be. Most experts agree that the initial excitement will wear off in time. Still, if more people get in the habit of using cannabis products, the industry could continue booming well beyond the months of quarantine.
Featured Image created from Pixabay