Illinois becomes 10th state to legalize adult-use marijuana; $2B market projected

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illinois recreational marijuana

(This story and headline have been updated to reflect that Illinois is the 10th state to legalize adult-use marijuana.)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed a recreational marijuana legalization bill into law, paving the way for the creation of a potential $2 billion market with strong business opportunities.

With the signature, Illinois becomes the first state in the country to legalize retail sales through its Legislature and the 10th overall to approve adult use.

Pritzker’s signature was considered a fait accompli, since he had pushed legalization and announced his intention to sign the bill as soon as the legislature approved it in late May.

“We’re also creating a $30 million low-interest loan program to create opportunity for entrepreneurs in the communities that deserve it the most (from the war on drugs),” Pritzker tweeted Tuesday.

Experts believe Illinois’ social equity program, if successful, could become a blueprint for other MJ programs across the country.

Marijuana Business Daily projects that the Illinois recreational program, which will launch Jan. 1, 2020, could generate up to $2.5 billion a year depending in part on how many tourists buy MJ products.

Illinois is the second state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. Michigan voters passed a referendum last November that legalized recreational marijuana.

The following are key business aspects to the measure:

  • Existing medical marijuana license holders can begin adult-use sales on Jan. 1, 2020. There currently are 55 licensed dispensaries in the state.
  • Illinois will award permits for up to 75 stores by May 1, 2020 as well as 40 processors and 40 craft growers by July 1, 2020.
  • The measure calls for the state to issue licenses for an additional 110 stores, 60 craft growers and 60 processors in December 2021.
  • Municipalities can prohibit rec cannabis, although Chicago is expected to be open.
  • Applicants that fall under social equity provisions receive additional points and potential financial resources and support such as low-interest loans, grants, training assistance and mentoring.

Jeff Smith can be reached at