Recreational marijuana sales start Jan. 1, but it could be years before pot users abandon their black-market weed dealers.
Chicago-area residents who buy marijuana from dealers say they’re excited to buy it from stores, to learn more about the products and not risk the fines or criminal charges associated with illegal weed possession. However, the obstacles of moving customers away from the black market are mounting.
The legal weed industry is expecting shortages next year, which could mean higher prices, buying limits and empty shelves at stores. If marijuana sold in stores is too expensive or there is a lack of product at convenient locations, buyers might stick with their dealers.
Illegal sales of marijuana in Illinois are expected to outpace legal sales at least through 2024, according to data from cannabis industry research firm BDS Analytics.
“The future of cannabis is converting people away from the black market, which is not hard to do if you can get them in the store,” said Richard Park, a consultant for marijuana stores, including Dispensary 33 in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.