The US state of Illinois celebrated its first day of legal recreational cannabis sales with a massive $3.2 million going through the checkouts of 37 dispensaries.
A little more than 77,000 transactions took place in 24 hours, according to Toi Hutchinson – senior advisor to Governor JB Pritzker on cannabis control.
“The amazing thing about that is that there’s a significant portion of these dollars that go directly into this community reinvestment fund, so we can continue to rebuild communities that have been hardest hit by the war on drugs,” she said on Thursday.
“So sales are great but let’s never lose sight on the impact that we’re having on families around this state.
“This is one of those moments where we recognize that the significance of yesterday was that it was the end of prohibition and the beginning of how we hope to grow a new industry here in Illinois and then teach other states how to do it.”
One of the first customers at the head of the queues to the dispensaries was Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton who joined hundreds of people braving Chicago’s snow to buy weed.
After purchasing a box of 100 milligram gummies, she later thanked Governor Pritzker on Twitter for driving through the historic cannabis legislation that also saw 11,017 marijuana misdemeanour convictions expunged.
“For too long, IL residents, particularly those that are black & brown, have been targeted and criminalized for #cannabis possession,” she tweeted.
“It’s not just a new year, it’s a new day. Thank you, @GovPritzker, for ending prohibition and building a more equitable Illinois.”
JB Pritzger’s address
Ahead of the dispensaries opening, JB Pritzger made a New Year’s Eve address (pictured) where he told attendees that his state was ending the war on cannabis.
“Illinois is putting equity first, clearing thousands of convictions and giving individuals & their families a new lease on life,” he began.
“These 11,017 misdemeanor convictions represent individuals who have carried around with them a stain on their records for possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis – a stain that has very often prevented them from obtaining housing or jobs or benefits. Today we lift the burden on the first 11,017 of those people.
“Importantly, this is just the first wave of Illinoisans who will see a new world of opportunities emerge as they shed the burden of their nonviolent cannabis-related convictions and records.
“Here in Illinois, we’re not just looking back and correcting the wrongs of our past – we’re facing our future, determined to do better – for everyone.
“Every state that has legalized cannabis has seen high demand and long lines in its earliest weeks, and to be sure, our state will too.
“But unlike other states, in Illinois, we purposely built a system where the market has room to grow, so that entrepreneurs, including especially those from the communities devastated by the war on drugs, will have real opportunities in this industry.”