Why are Illinois Wholesale Cannabis Prices So High? Photo: Jeff W/Unsplash
July 12, 2022

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issued June 2022 adult use sales data this week. Combined sales to in-state and out-of-state residents, at $126.8 million, are down 2.3% from $129.8 million in sales in May 2022, but up 9.7% from June 2021’s sales of $115.6 million.

June 2022 adult use sales to in-state residents, at $86.7 million, are down 2.4% from May 2022 sales of $88.8 million, but up 9.4% from June 2021 sales of $79.2 million. June 2022 in-state sales were 68.4% of the total, virtually unchanged from the May in-state market share.

June 2022 adult use sales to out-of-state customers were $40.1 million, down 2.1% from sales of $41 million in May 2022, but up 10.3% from sales of $36.4 million in June 2021. Out-of-state sales were 31.6% of the total in June 2022, unchanged from May 2022.

IDFPR supplies monthly data on the number of items sold; June items sold, at 3,023,145, fell 0.7% from May items sold of 3,044,806. Items sold have maintained levels over 3 million for four consecutive months. The average price per item fell $0.92 to $41.71 in June, from May’s average price per item of $42.63.

Illinois spot market price sold off from the October 2021 double top formation in the mid $4,100s, falling 19.6% – $815 – from October 2021 to early May 2022. Price has come back somewhat, recently trading in the mid $3,400s per pound. The 2021 – 2022 sell-off has been characterized as a money-raising operation, where the largest players sought to sell inventory to pay short-term venture loans taken to expand business in 2019 and 2020. As well, recent news included the notion that some multi-state cannabis businesses, a number of which hold licenses in Illinois, have significant unpaid federal tax bills, instead keeping the funds on hand for operating costs. The IRS charges 6% on past due balances, a relative bargain compared to venture or investment financing.

Cannabis supply is constrained by the limited number of cultivation licenses in the state, a situation exacerbated by continual legal challenges regarding the fairness of various lotteries.

In June, 48 craft grower licenses were awarded. Cannabis Business Times writes that more recently a judge has frozen the 48 licenses issued in June, as well as 40 craft grower licenses awarded last summer. While Illinois continues to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory via lawsuits, multi-state operators dominate the market, keeping Illinois cannabis the most expensive in the nation.