Contributor: KC Scannell
The cannabis industry is most certainly booming. That’s just an undeniable fact. And, to be fair, it’s been that way for years. Ever since pioneer states like Colorado, Washington, and California legalized cannabis, business analysts have been blown away by the levels of production these states were able to attain.
Looking at a basic map of these western states, it’s clear that there’s a wealth of natural real estate to be found within each of these places. And, the more open space a territory has, the more grow operations it can create. Now, that’s not to say that a warehouse in the middle of a city couldn’t produce cannabis – it totally could.
But the availability of natural real estate, such as the ones found in the aforementioned states, makes the acquiring of grow licenses so much easier, mainly because they don’t have to convince a small township to allow them to set up shop. These desolate areas of the state are perfect for growing in, and it’s probably why states that find themselves on, or near, the west coast land atop the list of marijuana growers year after year.
Experts Predict Illinois Will Be A “Top 5” State For Legalized Cannabis Soon – Here’s Why
Also, we must take into consideration a couple other factors when considering such a claim. Time spent in the industry, along with proper legalization, are main components that helped land these western states so high on the list of marijuana producers. With cannabis being legalized, both medicinally and recreationally in the majority of these places – for years – it’s allowed the growers in these states to get their operations down to a science, allowing them to increase their production numbers annually.
However, even though they haven’t even implemented recreational cannabis yet (January 2020), the great state of Illinois is looking to make a major splash in the marijuana industry the second it goes into effect. In short, there have been multiple studies done that ultimately show Illinois becoming one of the top five marijuana producers in only five short years. In which, analysts believe they will be growing up to (if not exceeding) one million pounds of marijuana by 2025.
Yup. Let that massive number sink in for a second. One million pounds. Unreal, right?
Well, it’s far more believable than you may assume. Why, just this year, with only medicinal sales being legal, Illinois found itself in the 13th spot on the list. They produced over 72,000 pounds of cannabis this past year, and it stands to reason that that number will blow up exponentially when recreational sales go into effect.
A spokesperson for the research firm broke down their prediction a bit further, stating, “The demand is already there, it’s just being supported by the illicit market. Once there is a deployed legal, regulated market… you’ll see a precipitous increase in legal sales.” Which, as one could already assume, is a tremendously truthful statement.
Currently, in Illinois’ medicinal-only state, they have legally allowed 21 facilities to grow and cultivate cannabis for sale to those who have gone ahead and received their medical marijuana card. And while that number may seem fairly high already, these places are struggling to meet the demand they expect to encounter when January 2020 rolls around. They’re doing as much as they can to prepare themselves for this wave of cannabis consumers, but with grows taking three months to complete, and real estate coming at a premium, this task is proving to be increasingly daunting – though, not impossible.
And that’s just the professional growers we’re talking about here. This isn’t taking into account the litany of home-growers who’ll likely try their best to grow and cultivate plants of their own. Right now, under the medicinal marijuana laws currently governing Illinois, medicinal marijuana patients are allowed to have up to five plants.
Another aspect to consider when mulling over this “Top 5” claim, is the population per capita that Illinois has to boast. Yes, California is massive, but when it comes to dense areas of populations, Illinois takes the cake. And, with that in their back pocket, they stand to profit that much more from legalized recreational cannabis. But they can only sell what they have – which means they are essentially forced by the cannabis market to increase their production in order to keep up with the increasing demand.
Which could prove to be a minor issue, but it’s a problem the state is happy to have. It wouldn’t be difficult to hand out more grow licenses to facilities to make this happen, but they would need to pass the very same vetting process currently in place to regulate the industry. But, whatever route they choose to increase their production, the fact remains that they will get it done. And, in doing so, they will climb through the ranks of legalized states with incredible ease and impressive speed.
This seems to be the trend amongst more eastern states, such as Illinois. A study conducted by the Brightfield Group was published recently, in which they believe the majority of cannabis production will flip from the western side of the country over to the east in the coming years.
As of right now, western states (Colorado, California, Oregon, etc.) make up about 42% of cannabis sales in the country. But, with more and more states legalizing marijuana, in one way or another, that tide will slowly start to shift. And, come 2023, these experts believe that western states will lose roughly 20% of those sales to more eastern territories, who will then own 34% of the industry.
Now, will this flip be that dramatic? Only time will tell, to be honest. But, personally, I don’t believe a shift of that degree will happen that quickly – if at all. The technology surrounding cultivation has been getting better and better over the past few years, and it stands to reason that more home grows will come into play – regardless of region. So, it’ll be important to take that into account when they choose to crunch these numbers again.
But, even if that prediction is a bit far-fetched, it doesn’t change the fact that Illinois will soon become a haven for cannabis growers and enthusiasts. And their quick rise to marijuana stardom is surely going to be a sight to behold. The only thing they need to work on is eliminating illegal dispensaries and cannabis clubs from popping up, and taking away from hard-working, legitimate, tax-paying businesses. Once they get that under control, there’s really no stopping them.
And, even though we’ve seen the western part of the country reign supreme in the cannabis game since its inception, it’d be nice to see a changing of the guard, so to speak. Illinois has gone about their legalization the right way, and they deserve to reap the rewards of their diligence. When January 2020 comes, the state will be buzzing with eager enthusiasts looking to get their hands on some newly-legal bud, and we can’t blame them.
We just hope the state has enough on deck to supply their residents with all the cannabis they so desperately desire. If not, they may see themselves “upping” production far sooner than they ever could have anticipated, but I suppose this is one of those “wait-and-see” scenarios. Either way, we’re proud of Illinois and wish them nothing but success in the cannabis industry.