How Marijuana Legalization in Illinois Opens Up a Billion-Dollar Market

News flash to anyone who still thinks that marijuana legalization bills are doomed: Illinois just proved you wrong.

Governor J.B. Pritzker — a billionaire Democrat who ran on legalization — is about to sign a bill ending marijuana prohibition in his state. This makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. (The 12th if you count Washington, D.C.)

Whether or not you live in Illinois, this is a big deal — for several reasons:

1. Marijuana legalization made it through the state legislature.

Previously, only the much-smaller state of Vermont was able to legalize this way, versus a ballot referendum. This has to be encouraging to pro-legalization politicians in other states… and in Congress. (It’s yet another reason why I expect full federal legalization sooner than you think.)

2. Now, almost a third of Americans will live in a state where adults can purchase recreational marijuana.

Illinois is the 6th biggest U.S. state by population. And, with nearly 13 million people, Illinois will be second only to California on the legal-weed roster.

So, naturally…

3. Illinois will bring a LOT to the table for the cannabis industry.

We’re talking:

  • $1.6 billion a year in expected sales, according to Chicago Business.And that’s just from recreational use. When you factor in medical marijuana – a market that’s already thriving in Illinois – the future is even brighter:
  • $2.9 billion a year by 2024, projects Alliance Global Partners.“Illinois is going to be huge,” agrees the Brightfield Group, noting that Illinois will soon rival Colorado… a state with a more established industry – but only half the people.
  • Governor Pritzker thinks legal marijuana will earn Illinois $170 million… just in the first year. There’s no doubt that tax revenue is one reason states are jumping on the bandwagon.

4. This could be a huge job creator.

Illinois is already home to several of the top cannabis companies, like Cresco Labs (OTCMKTS:CRLBF). And Cresco is planning to double its workforce there.

From its home base in Chicago, Cresco has some pretty ambitious goals for expansion. In April came the news that it would purchase Origin House (OTCMKTS:ORHOF) for approximately $850 million.

Cresco is already one of the biggest American cannabis companies, with $21.1 million in first-quarter revenues. But if you count its pending acquisitions of Origin House and VidaCann, Cresco would have made$33.9 million. Origin House might be based in Ontario — but what it really does for Cresco is open up America’s oldest and largest legal-weed market: California.

That’s just one example. And for us as investors, it’s time to get on board this train — or watch it pass us by.

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