by Katrina Hapner, contributing writer for Telegraph Local
At the star of the new year, Illinois retailers are set to enter the recreational marijuana business. Illinois is the 11th state to broadly allow the use and sale of marijuana. Having recently entered the market themselves December first, Michigan retailers confirm they have gotten many customers from surrounding Midwest states where marijuana is not legal. With the entry of both states to the marijuana market, officials are worried that it may spark tension among other Midwest states. Warnings from authorities are abundant, reminding customers that it is illegal to carry product across state lines.
However, in it’s first month of legal marijuana sales, shops say they have been very busy. Though regulators do not yet know how much of the $4.7 million Michigan sold in it’s first three weeks, retailers say they are getting many customers from Ohio, and Indiana. It is easy to speculate that January first is going to be a big day for the 30 stores in Illinois who have been approved to start selling recreational weed. Illinois marijuana stores have said they have thoroughly trained employees to remind non-residents that they cannot transport their product across state lines.
This is wherein the tension lies between these closely bordered non-legal states. Law enforcement in these surrounding states have stated they will be strictly enforcing marijuana laws in their states. The executive director for Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, Pamela Althoff, in a statement to non-residents, counsels that “If you want to enter into Illinois and participate in consuming cannabis, you need to be responsible and you need to know the law,” she said. “Just like alcohol, this should not be something you plan to consume and then get back in the car.”
The data seems to suggest that many customers will cross state lines despite all these warnings against bringing marijuana back home. While some states like Ohio, allow limited use of marijuana for medical use only, no other states near Ohio and Illinois have made moves towards allowing recreational usage. While states do sometimes differ regarding regulation of other things like guns, and drinking ages, the effects of marijuana sales on neighboring states could be extreme with federal laws remaining unchanged.
However, many analysts believe that nonresident demand will not be the primary area of revenue and that local buyers will make up most of the business. John Kagia, a representative of New Frontier Data, states that data from one study done in Colorado showed that only 9% of their sales came from outside the state. However, this data varies widely between states, with Nevada reporting 25% of sales from nonresidents. While no studies could yet be conducted in Michigan, even after a month out from the start of sales, vehicles with license plates from Illinois, Ohio, Kansas and Indiana are prevalent in the parking lots of legal dispensaries. Customers waited outside in the cold for hours and feared stores would run out of weed. This seems to give Illinois a hint as to what is in store for them come January.