July was an especially productive and profitable month for the marijuana industry, with retailers making record-breaking sales in at least four states.
This is continuing a trend that’s been observed in numerous states as cannabis markets have come online and matured. And it’s all the more impressive considering how the industry has thrived even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In Illinois, Maine and Michigan, sales on adult-use marijuana products reached new highs in July. The same goes for Missouri’s medical cannabis market.
Here’s a breakdown of the record month of marijuana sales in July:
The Prairie State saw nearly $128 million in recreational cannabis purchases last month—more than double the total monthly sales from a year ago.
People bought 2,802,124 individual cannabis products in July, which represents another monthly record.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that in-state residents bought $85 million in marijuana, or 69 percent, while out-of-state visitors accounted for $42 million in sales.
July marks the fifth consecutive month that sales in Illinois’s adult-use market have topped $100 million. If the trend continues, the state is on track to see more than $1 billion in adult-use marijuana sales in 2021.
That would mean a significant increase revenue for the state. Illinois sold about $670 million in cannabis last year and took in $205.4 million in tax revenue.
Illinois took in more tax dollars from marijuana than alcohol for the first time last quarter, officials reported in May. From January to March, Illinois generated about $86,537,000 in adult-use marijuana tax revenue, compared to $72,281,000 from liquor sales.
Adult-use marijuana sales reached $9.4 million in July—a 45 percent increase from the prior month’s record.
Cannabis business owners on the ground credit the Fourth of July holiday and tourism for the spike, The Portland Press Herald reported.
The retail market for recreational cannabis launched in October of last year, and it’s steadily grown in popularity. July marks the first time that adult-use sales rivaled those of the state’s older medical marijuana market.
And of course, these rising sales are contributing to tax revenue for the state. The Maine Office of Marijuana Policy reported $943,500 in cannabis sales tax revenue for July.
Michigan marijuana sales broke another record last month with more than $171 million in cannabis transactions, according to data from a state regulatory body that was released last week.
There were $128 million in adult-use sales and $43 million in medical cannabis purchases in July.
The prior month saw $107 million recreation marijuana sales and $42 million for medical cannabis.
For July, the total sales translates into $23 million in tax revenue, some of which will go to infrastructure projects, public education and individual jurisdictions.
Last week, state officials also awarded $20 million in marijuana tax revenue to fund a pair of research projects meant to investigate the therapeutic potential of cannabis for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Most of last month’s recreational sales went to flower cannabis products ($63.5 million), followed by vape cartridges ($26.3 million) and edibles ($18.5 million).
For the first time, Missouri medical cannabis sales exceeded $20 million in July.
Analysts say the record-breaking figures is largely attributable to a combination of new dispensaries opening and growing patient enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.
With July’s $21 million in cannabis sales, that raises the total medical marijuana purchases in the state to about $91 million for 2021.
Meanwhile, a group of Missouri marijuana activists recently filed four separate initiatives to put marijuana reform on the state’s 2022 ballot, a move that comes as other advocacy groups are preparing separate efforts to collect signatures for cannabis ballot petitions of their own.
Still other activists are focusing on getting the legislature to pass a resolution to place the question of legalization before voters next year.
These record-breaking sales reports have become a common theme across legal states amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent scientific analysis of sales data in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State found that marijuana purchases “have increased more during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the previous two years.”
“Findings show a general increase in cannabis sales following stay-at-home orders issued in AK, CO, OR, and WA in late March 2020,” the report, published earlier this month in the International Journal of Drug Policy, says. “In all four states, those increases were greater than the percent increases observed in the preceding two years.”
Throughout the pandemic, many states allowed cannabis retailers to remain open—with governors and regulators in several markets declaring marijuana businesses to be essential services—and some jurisdictions issued emergency rules allowing curbside pickup, delivery services or other more relaxed policies in order to facilitate social distancing.
An exception to the booming sales trend is Colorado, however, where purchases fell again in June, the most recent month for which data is available.