Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker this morning signed into law a bill that makes Illinois the tenth state (plus Washington, D.C.) to legalize marijuana for adults and regulate a new legal cannabis market. The bill’s passage and signing is historic because Illinois becomes the first state in the country to legalize cannabis through the state government rather than a citizen-led ballot initiative.
There is much to love about the Illinois bill, such as the provision that will result in the expungement of criminal cannabis convictions for 750,000 Illinoisans and some of the strongest social equity provisions of any legalization law in the country, but there’s a looming problem with Illinois’ legalization program that has been largely lost in the excitement around the bill’s passage.
Illinois is going to run out of cannabis.
It’s a simple, though avoidable, problem of supply and demand, and the aftermath will create serious challenges for the state’s cannabis industry, adult-use cannabis consumers, and patients who use cannabis for medical purposes once the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
It might sound absurd that an entire state would run out of a product that grows, well, like a weed. But the Illinois General Assembly has all but guaranteed that it will happen by adopting a licensing structure that is woefully inadequate for a state with a massive resident and tourist population.
To be fair, product shortages are typical in states with new adult-use programs, as evidenced by the following headlines from the early days of legalization in Colorado, Washington, and Nevada:
Of course, who