Recreational cannabis sales in Illinois top $1B since January as workers move to unionize

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Recreational cannabis sales in Illinois are sparking excitement among business owners. According to a recent report from the Chicago Sun-Times, sales topped $1.12 billion within the first 10 months of 2021. 

During the month of October, in excess of $124 million was collected in recreational cannabis sales revenue. In comparison with sales figures recorded during previous months, October’s revenue results represent the second-highest monthly sales since cannabis was legalized in January 2020 for adults aged 21+.

Dispensaries scattered across Illinois recorded $127.8 million in recreational cannabis during the month of July. Moreover, dispensaries managed to shift almost $300 million worth of medical cannabis products between January and September of 2021.

A significant chunk of revenue came from the many out-of-staters who descended on Chicago to attend Lollapalooza music festival rom July 29-August 1, 2021.

Illinois cannabis employees vote to unionize

Cannabis employees in Illinois are taking major strides in the direction of unionization, with 35 eligible employees at a second Curaleaf cannabis retail store recently voting to group with Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). 

The store, which is known as “Windy City Cannabis,” is located in Worth. A vote of 24-11 led to the unionization, which is expected to be succeeded by two more dispensaries; votes will commence before the year’s end.

UFCW is gearing up for a union vote at Curaleaf’s Mokina dispensary, with another scheduled to take place at the company’s Skokie dispensary. In April of last year, cannabis employees working at a North Side Chicago Curaleaf dispensary also voted to converge with UFCW.

Additionally, Ascend Wellness, Cresco Labs, Green Thumb Industries and PharmaCann have arranged cannabis worker unionization between the UFCW and another labor union known as “the Teamsters”. Most recently, Teamsters Local 777 initiated the organizing of three Illinois PharmaCann Verilife dispensaries located in Romeoville, Rosemont and Ottawa.

Union officials say that, by organizing with the UFCW, cannabis industry workers in Illinois will benefit from improved health care, consistent work schedules and dependable wages.

State is sued by two more Illinois cannabis companies 

More cannabis-focused legal battles are ensuing in Illinois. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and its deputy director Bret Bender have been slammed with a lawsuit from two companies that are unsatisfied about being turned down for a cannabis business license.

Champion Investments IL and Fox River Gardens, the two plaintiffs named in the court case, claimed that the lottery license-awarding system was “biased” and “unconstitutional”. Moreover, the company owners argued that the licensing process goes against the state’s vision to encourage social equity across the legal cannabis industry.

Specifically, the lawsuit states that Illinois regulators failed to provide priority access for social equity applicants. Based on details of the suit which is one of many to be filed by prospective cannabis companies across the state the plaintiffs are upset about the fact that the state infringed upon their equal protection rights.