Medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois extend hours of operation

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The ever-expanding market for legal cannabis in Illinois is causing dispensary staff to work longer hours. Since adult-use sales started on January 1, 2020 following the enactment of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act – an influx of customers have poured through the doors of state-licensed stores; which raked in $10.4 million in tax revenue during the month of January.

Medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois, on the other hand, have been shutting up shop before adult-use stores. According to a recent announcement from the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, dispensaries that serve registered patients will now be able to stay open for longer.

As per the update, medical retailers will be allowed to stay open until 10 p.m. — the same time as recreational retailers. Previously, medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois were required to close at 8 p.m. The Department has made its decision as a means of establishing symmetry among both markets. Now, both medical and recreational retailers in Illinois can open their doors as early as 6 a.m.; if they so desire. 

“Our Department will continue working to ensure patients receive the level of service they have come to expect from our medical cannabis program,” the department wrote in its official statement on the matter.

Sales of medical cannabis in Illinois will be prioritized over adult-use sales

The passing of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013 saw Illinois legalize medical cannabis, making it the 20th state to do so. Although medical cannabis in Illinois was legalized many years before a recreational market blossomed, patients were previously limited in terms of when they could buy their medicine.

This is not to say that the medical market is struggling; during the first eight months of 2019, almost $150 million was earned from patient purchases. However, with the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois, supply issues are becoming a problem. Numerous multistate operators (MSOs) like Cresco Labs and Green Thumb Industries are taking advantage of both the medical and recreational cannabis markets in Illinois.

Despite the fact that plenty of bud is being supplied to dispensaries in Illinois, state officials were concerned that medical cannabis patients would in the event that supply shortages arose due to increased demand from both markets miss out to recreational patients. 

Cannabis in Illinois: Supply  issues already a problem 

Although recreational cannabis sales in Illinois have pulled in plenty of revenue for the state $39.2 million during the launch month high demand has already triggered supply issues. This is according to executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, Pam Althoff. She says that flower is in higher demand than edibles and concentrates. As a result, this is leading to shortages and is causing a lot of dispensaries to impose purchase limits on store-bought bud. 

Based on the possession limits for recreational cannabis in Illinois, consumers can obtain a maximum of 30 grams of plant material; approximately one ounce. The THC content of purchased edibles must not exceed 500mg and concentrated cannabis products are capped at five grams. Non-residents are limited to purchasing half the amount allowed by residents. Home cultivation is only permitted by medical cannabis patients in Illinois; a maximum of five plants.