Illinois kept the market small on purpose.
When I was growing up; the streets caused droughts, long before the official droughts started. It was rumored that many multi spot (weed) owners would drought the market before the droughts started. Pardon me, I am from Manhattan, where things like this happen since the early 90’s “home of the haze” open market. formerly known as the black market. This was a large suppliers way of getting rid of the little spots that can easily turn into a big spot, if the small business owner had good consistent work. Things
Meanwhile back at the ranch; fast forward 2020 Illinois has long lines, closures and shortages of product that have irritated consumers of legal weed in Illinois, since day one of the first sale of the year. The state officials said the slow start to the sale of recreational cannabis was intentional, and one that even cultivators also wanted. However, say the eventual goal is a market where supply and demand are in balance.
Regulators actually seeked to “purposely slow things down to make sure we made space for new entrance to the market,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s senior adviser on cannabis, better known unofficially as the Illinois “pot czar.”
Similar droughts have been par of every marijuana market after legalization and before if you count the Open market (black market), said Chris Lindsey, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. Lindsey helped state officials draft legal marijuana legislation. Cultivators predicted shortages even before recreational use became legal.
he state never disclosed plans for the slow approach to the public as they were drafting the law, Lindsey said, but “it was certainly a conversation among public agencies.” After exploring different options, that path made the most sense, he said.
These two main types of systems states can build, Lindsey said. One makes a finite number of licenses available, the choice Illinois went with. The other offers an unlimited licensing and lets the market decide which businesses survive.
“The state did not want to see a situation where it would be tempting to do the straight math and say how many consumers are there and multiply it straight across,” Lindsey said. “That’s a brute force way of trying to find the right number. … If we had let it off the chain, it would have been a lot harder to scale back.” However it would have been a natural way, to find out instead of imposing this experiment this experiment on the people.
Besides consumer frustration, the slow and steady approach has its advantages, Hutchinson and those in the cannabis industry say. For one, a small start helped businesses build up a revenue stream before expanding. Additionally, it protected medical marijuana patients by ensuring the adult use program didn’t take priority, Hutchinson said.
More than 87,000 patients have qualified for the medical program since 2015. There are 8.6 million Illinois residents over 21, not to mention millions of tourists, who could buy recreational marijuana.
With that kind of gap between medical and recreational users, the demand for product can easily overwhelm growers and push medical patients to the sidelines, said Kris Krane, president and co-founder of 4Front Ventures, a cannabis operations company with businesses in nine states.
What is sad is that this will become a norm in the industry as well as it shows the control that people and governments want to have on the industry. To be continued in the Magazine that debuts on Issu.com this weekend.