In January 2014, medical marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois, making it the 20th state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. Fast forward 5 years later to 2019, the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was passed. This made recreational cannabis legal in the state of Illinois starting January 2020. This makes it the 11th state to legalize adult use recreational marijuana, but the first in the nation to legalize cannabis for recreational sale and use through a state legislature rather than ballot initiative.
You might think that because it’s recreational, the prices might drop or the quality might improve. I mean, they have had 6 years to step up to the recreational plate from just medical, but this is just not the case. The first issue I found was supply. When the law changed and cannabis became recreational, dispensaries and grows seemed to be unable to keep up with the high demand. It seems that if you’re a patient, they may have a little more on hand for you, but still not much more than the recreational supply. Without being able to keep up with demands, it seems like companies just started chopping down and drying crops as fast as they possibly could. With the rush in the process it seems to have affected the overall quality of the cannabis.
Now when it comes to quality, it seems there are a few companies who know what they’re doing. Our good friends over at Aēriz actually have a grow operation down in Anna, Illinois. They seem to be doing a great job supplying cannabis to dispensaries statewide. I have had the pleasure of trying both their Ice Cream Cake and Lava Cake In IL and AZ and must say I was not disappointed one bit. Although they seem to be producing amazing flowers here in IL, there are others who, as I said, are really missing the quality that you would expect when you’re paying these high costs.
The average price for an 8th of flower is $50 to $60. The problem is there are companies packaging popcorn buds as colas and the buds are extremely dry for a product that says it was packaged just a couple weeks prior. There is also a lack of terpene profile or entirely different profile than what is expected. I tried some Blueberry Clementine that tasted and smelled like cheese and a Jenny Kush that smelled and tasted like hay… very unpleasant. I mean when you pay 50 bucks for an 8th in AZ, you know it’s quality because it’s coming from reputable companies such as Grow Sciences, Nectar Farms, Green Gene etc. In Illinois, it’s hit or miss. Here, you aren’t even allowed to see the products before you buy, they are all pre packed with no display.
I myself being more of a concentrate user have had a problem with purchasing concentrates. One reason being the quality. Most of the concentrates I have found are usually live resins but seem to lack the flavor and more full spectrum effects that usually tend to come with live runs. Another reason is the price point. From what I’ve seen the average cost for a gram of any type of dabable concentrate is anywhere from $50 to $60 a gram. That price is for a regular BHO or live resin. Now, when it comes to higher end concentrates such as THCA or diamond sauces, you’re looking at anywhere from about $120 to $140 a gram. There are absolutely no rosin or solventless options in any of these dispensaries, so connaisseurs, sorry but Illinois just isn’t there yet.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, these prices are high, especially for medical.” Well Medical tax is only about 1%, but when it comes to adult use recreational, it makes a huge difference. For a rec user, there is a 10% tax added to the sales tax for products with 35% THC or less, not including cannabis infused products (they have a 20% tax added). There’s a 25% tax on items greater than 35% THC. This raises the price of an 1/8th from $60 to about $66. For concentrates, the price of a gram would increase from $60 to about $75.
So all in all, the prices are high, selections are limited, and the quality is hit or miss. It’s not always cheaper or easier to get good products in a recreational state. Another thing to keep in mind is even if you have a med card in another state, you can’t use it in Illinois so you would be forced into the rec market (even for medicine) and effectively charged the recreational taxes on top of the already high prices.
I’m sure once all this covid stuff blows over, the high prices will kick the black market into overdrive like has happened in California. Hopefully, this state can improve their prices and methods so patients and users can finally have access to a variety of quality meds at a reasonable price.