Recreational cannabis sales in Illinois dipped slightly to $34.8 million in February, according to new figures from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

There were long queues outside dispensaries when a brave new era of legal adult-use marijuana began on Jan 1., 2020. Trading remained brisk throughout the month and sales for January totalled $39.2 million.

It was the second best debut month for any state that has legalized recreational marijuana, behind only Nevada. The state earned $10.5 million in tax revenue for the 31-day period, which was far higher than Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s initial projections.

Illinois has now revealed that sales decreased 11% in February, with more than 831,000 cannabis products sold. There were just 29 days of trading, which could partially account for the dip, while the novelty may have worn off for some cannabis consumers.

Yet the Pritzker administration remained upbeat when announcing the news. “These numbers show there continues to be a strong demand across the state as the most equity-centric cannabis program in the country moves forward in Illinois,” said Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser for cannabis control to Gov. JB Pritzker.

She predicted that the industry would enjoy significant growth in future, providing more opportunities for individuals disproportionately impacted by the “failed war on drugs” to benefit from the new industry.

The state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries were permitted to commence recreational sales from Jan. 1, but more dedicated adult-use pot shops and also some marijuana lounges will begin opening their doors in the months ahead, giving the nascent industry a shot in the arm.

Last month, Pritzker said Illinois should earn $28 million in cannabis tax revenue for the remainder of fiscal year 2020, which ends on June 30. That is equivalent to $4.67 million per month, but it made more than double that in January.

It has smashed that target again in February despite a limited number of operational dispensaries and supply shortages, so it is easy to see why the administration is so upbeat.

Around 55% of the adult-use cannabis tax goes towards regulating the industry, but the rest is used to invest in communities that were badly impacted by the war on drugs or go towards substance abuse and mental health programs.

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