In 2021, marijuana tax revenue in Illinois surpassed alcohol tax revenue by a margin of $100 million. Illinois legalized recreational cannabis by passing the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act towards the end of 2019. The recreational program kicked off in January 2020 and Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis. However, it was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through legislative action as others had done so through voter initiatives.
In the year that has just concluded, Illinois generated close to $100 million in taxes from marijuana sales over and above what was generated from alcohol tax revenue. From February 2021, tax revenues from marijuana have exceeded those from alcohol due to the record-breaking cannabis sales in the state. Taxes collected from alcohol surpassed those collected from marijuana in the month of January.
Total tax revenues collected from marijuana from January to November were $387 million compared to $291 million which was collected from alcohol tax. The figures are from the Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR). The state has a 6.25% sales tax collects additional sales taxes from pot.
How is Illinois Using Marijuana Tax Revenues?
In 2020, Illinois weed tax surpassed the $175 million mark. The monies were channeled to various projects including funding an opioid reversal program as well as supporting a program that seeks to end human trafficking. Some funds were also used to reduce street violence.
Other funds have been channeled towards facilitating the expungement program and reinvesting in communities that were most affected by the drug war. Funds collected from the 2021 period will fund the second round of the state’s R3 program- Restore, Reinvest, and Renew. The marijuana law in Illinois requires that at least 25% of revenues from marijuana tax be channeled towards facilitating the rehabilitation of such adversely affected communities.
The first round of R3 was allocated about $31.5 million which was distributed among 80 organizations. Most of these organizations will have the funding renewed in 2022 so that they can continue working with the affected communities.
Pot sales in Illinois hit the $1 billion mark showing the strength and potential of the recreational market. In the course of the year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) processed over 500,000 expungements and pardons for those with low-level marijuana convictions on their records. The Prairie State is the incarnation of rolling out a successful adult-use marijuana program that other states can look up to.