Illinois’ cannabis has become notorious for its high prices since adult use was legalized in 2020. As prices have remained consistently higher than many other states, what can be done for consumers?
When recreational sales first went online in January 2020, the Chicago Sun-Times reported an eighth in Illinois at retail could cost as much as $62, making it the most expensive in the nation at the time. While the highest-price crown has now been passed to Washington D.C., prices in Illinois still remain the highest among adult use states, with Illinois prices for an ounce costing as much as $354, behind only Virginia and Maryland among adult use states.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford, a leader on state cannabis legislation, puts blame on Illinois’ numerous taxes – ranging from retail sales tax to a tax on potency. Yet, while he acknowledges the prices can be a burden to the consumer, he believes the revenue provides an overall net positive to state residents.
“Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” Ford said. “The taxes put into it go directly to helping benefit and reinvest in communities hurt by the War on Drugs. It’s a great opportunity for the state.”
While Ford does not advocate capping prices, he does believe legislators can still alleviate the burden by reducing tax burdens on consumers, in a similar way the state has done responding to higher gas prices.
Cole Preston, host of Chillinois Podcast, believes more growers and licensees may help bring down the cost burden on consumers. Currently, Illinois has the lowest number of cannabis business licenses per capita of any legal state.
Both Ford and Preston acknowledge the prices could encourage consumers to purchase elsewhere, which could hinder growth and revenue for the state’s legal industry.
“Consumers are stuck between a rock and hard place,” Preston says. “With a limited amount of cultivation licenses issued/set-to-be issued, we have a limited supply. I believe that we would see prices drop if more cultivation licenses were actively selling products. It should be easier to get a license than it currently is.”