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Everything's Coming Up Green In Illinois

From Lollapalloza sales to even more dispensary licenses going out, there's more legal marijuana in the Land of Lincoln than ever.

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With sales expected to spike for the Lollapalooza — this is the first time in the Chicago music festival’s history that weed is legal in the state — and 55 new licensees getting the go-ahead to open dispensaries, it looks like everything's coming up green in Illinois this week.

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Recreational weed became legal in Illinois on January 1, 2020. Back then there were only a handful of marijuana retail stores, but that’s steadily increased. 

In fact, 55 new licenses were recently awarded as the result of a statewide lottery. There were more than 626 applicants in 17 different regions. That’s on top of the 110 approved in 2020. Even if it was a bit of a messy process making marijuana legal in the Land of Lincoln — the law went into effect right before COVID-19 shutdowns, which caused delays in licensing by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation — it's a success story. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, ​total sales reached $1.03 billion in Illinois last year, including $669 million in recreational weed and more than $366 million in medical sales. Through June, the state is on pace to generate $1.65 billion in sales for 2021.

Chicago dispensaries have stocked up for the big Lolla weekend, increasing both product and staff to take on the extra business. While people are technically prohibited from smoking and vaping by the Chicago Park District, there’s little doubt cannabis will be as popular as the music lineup.

“I can’t speak to what the rules for Lolla are specifically,” Jason Erkes of Chicago-based Cresco Labs, a large multistate cannabis operator, told the Tribune. “But I can tell you that cannabis and music festivals go as far back as Woodstock over 50 years ago. And I wouldn’t expect that this year’s Lolla will be any different.”