More than $3m worth of cannabis sold in Illinois on first day of legalisation

'A significant portion of these dollars will go into rebuilding communities hardest hit by the war on drugs,' says state lawmaker. 'I'm framing my first gram,' says user

Colin Drury
Friday 03 January 2020 11:31
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More than $3m worth of cannabis sold in Illinois on first day of legalisation

It was a happy – and seemingly high – new year in Illinois after cannabis sales of more than $3m (£2.3m) were made on the first day of the drug being legal for recreational use in the state.

Some 37 dispensaries made 77,128 transactions as thousands of residents saw in the start of 2020 by lighting up.

"The amazing thing about that is that there's a significant portion of these dollars that go directly into this community reinvestment fund, so we can continue to rebuild communities that have been hardest hit by the war on drugs," said Toi Hutchinson, senior adviser for cannabis control, as she revealed the figure on Thursday.

She added: “Sales are great but let's never lose sight on the impact that we're having on families around this state."

Reports and footage posted to social media showed long queues outside dispensaries from the early morning on Wednesday.

"I wanted to be first in line because I have waited 46 years for this moment," said Arnold Winslow, who walked nearly two hours to make a first purchase at a retailer in Cook County.

He would, he told NBC, keep the first gram and have it framed alongside the receipt as a "memento". "And then maybe I'll buy a loose cigarette and smoke it at home," he added.

At EarthMed Dispensary in Chicago, meanwhile, the first 100 customers also received a commemorative T-shirt with their purchase.

Illinois is now the 11th US state to legalise the sale of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes.

Its new regulations have been widely praised for enshrining in law the fact that money made from sales will be pumped into job creation and improving left-behind neighbourhoods.

Complimenting the legal shift, Governor Jay Pritzker has also granted 11,017 pardons for low level cannabis-related criminal misdemeanours. The Democrat said the move would make it easier for those whose records were now expunged to access jobs, housing and financial aid for college.

"This is one of those moments where we recognise that the significance of yesterday was that it was the end of prohibition and the beginning of how we hope to grow a new industry here in Illinois and then teach other states how to do it," said Ms Hutchinson.

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