Illinois residents spent $10.8 million on recreational cannabis during the first five days after legal sales began on Jan 1.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office issued a news release revealing that there were 271,169 transactions from Jan. 1 to Jan 5. The first day of legal sales was the busiest, as thousands of Illinoisans lined up outside dispensaries for the opportunity to purchase recreational marijuana.

There were 77,128 transactions on Jan. 1 and sales stood at $3,176,256.71. The next three days each saw more than 50,000 transactions and sales passed the $2 million barrier each time, before dipping to $1,189,252.18 off of 30,954 transactions on the Sunday, Jan. 5.

Toi Hutchison, a senior advisor to the governor for cannabis control, said the launch of the new industry will benefit communities disproportionately impacted by the “failed war on drugs”. She said that there has been “robust” interest for dispensary ownership from social equity applicants and encouraged Illinoisans to apply for loans from a $30 million pot it has set aside to reduce the capital barriers to entering the industry.

“Unlike any state in the nation, Illinois has set the standard for what it means to legalize cannabis in a way that begins to right the wrongs of the past and gives new opportunity to those that have been left behind for far too long,” said Hutchinson.

More than 700 applicants applied for almost 4,000 licenses to open dispensaries in the state by the Jan 2 deadline. Illinois will award up to 75 new dispensary licenses and the winners will be announced on May 1.

Existing medical marijuana dispensaries are already selling recreational cannabis in the state, but several cities and towns do not have a local store. The industry should grow significantly once the licenses are awarded later this year.

Applicants will be given 180 days from the time they receive a license to secure a location, and then the stores will begin opening across Illinois.

Right now there are supply shortages, as has been the case in every state to legalize adult-use cannabis, and some medical dispensaries have halted recreational sales in order to prioritize medical marijuana patients.

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