Illinois Made $36.1M Last Year from Wisconsin Residents Crossing the Border to Buy Cannabis

Illinois generated $36.1 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales to Wisconsin residents last year, according to a recent report.

Full story after the jump.

Illinois made $36.1 million last year in tax revenues from cannabis sales by Wisconsin residents, according to a memo from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). The report came at the request of state Sen. Melissa Agard (D) who has been pushing for cannabis legalization in the state since 2013. 

According to the LFB report, citing Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) data, Illinois dispensaries made $1,552.3 million in cannabis sales – excluding tax revenue – in calendar year 2022. The IDFPR indicates that $239.7 million, or 15.4%, of those sales were generated by dispensaries located in counties bordering Wisconsin.  

“Of the sales made in counties bordering Wisconsin, $121.2 million, or 50.6%, of these sales were to out-of-state residents. Relative to marijuana sales statewide, approximately 7.8% of total cannabis sales revenue in Illinois came from sales made to out-of-state residents in counties bordering Wisconsin in calendar year 2022.” — LFB memo, “Illinois Marijuana Tax Collections on Sales and Estimated Wisconsin Residents,” Mar. 10, 2023 

A February Wisconsin Policy Forum report found that half of the state’s residents aged 21 or older – or about 2.16 million people – already live within 75 minutes of an adult-use dispensary in either Illinois or Michigan and another 30% live within an hour’s drive.    

The IDFPR analysis provided in the memo assumes that all sales to out-of-state residents in Illinois counties bordering Wisconsin were made to Wisconsin residents and estimates that such sales constitute 7.8% of total Illinois cannabis-related tax revenue. The memo notes that “it is possible that not all sales to out-of-state residents in counties bordering Wisconsin were made to Wisconsin residents.”  

In a statement, Agard said that Wisconsinites should be “upset” that their “hard-earned tax dollars are going across the border to Illinois.” 

“This is revenue that could be going toward Wisconsin’s public schools, transportation infrastructure and public safety,” she said. “Instead, Illinois is reaping the benefits of Republican obstructionism and their prohibitionist stance on marijuana legalization.” 

Agard added that Wisconsin is “an island of prohibition and the people of our state are hurting because of it.”  

“As seen in our neighboring states, legalizing marijuana for responsible adult usage will generate significant revenue for our mainstreets, safely regulate the existing illicit market, reinvest in our agriculture and farming heritage, support entrepreneurship, and address the massive and egregious racial disparities from marijuana prohibition,” she said in the statement. 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has included cannabis legalization in his annual budget proposal. In 2021, he was teased by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker who thanked him for the tax revenues provided to the state by Wisconsin residents who cross the border to buy cannabis. 

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