Illinois positioned to cash in on pot – NWAOnline

CHICAGO — The cannabis industry in the U.S. has long been centered on states like Colorado and Oregon, but now, marijuana sales in Illinois and its neighboring states east of the Mississippi River are poised to rival those out west.

The U.S. cannabis market is experiencing significant growth, with sales that are expected to reach $22.7 billion by 2023, including $16.8 billion in recreational sales, according to a report out recently from Chicago-based cannabis research firm Brightfield Group. Political support is growing around legalization efforts, and medical programs are expanding around the country.

In Illinois, lawmakers are working to capture some of those potential recreational sales. They hope to pass a bill by the end of May that would legalize recreational use of the still federally illegal drug by January.

Currently, the top five markets are west of the Mississippi, with Colorado, Oregon and Washington making up 42% of total U.S. sales, according to the Brightfield report. Sales in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and New York together make up 11%.

By 2023, those market shares are expected to flip, Brightfield predicted, with the Eastern states making up 34% of the market, and the Western states dropping to 20%.

“A lot of it comes down to population density,” said Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield Group. “There’s much more opportunity in these areas that have larger populations and the market size can be larger. … Illinois is going to be huge.”

California is expected to remain on top, with one-fifth of total demand. But Illinois and Michigan are expected to rival Colorado and Nevada.

States in the Midwest and along the East Coast are more populous than those out west, offering greater potential for long-term growth among cannabis companies, according to the report. Their marijuana programs have so far limited

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