(CBS News) – The new year is off to a profitable start in Illinois, where the state’s marijuana shops brought in nearly $3.2 million on the first day of legal sales. The sales come after Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered on a top campaign promise in June, when he signed legislation to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use at the start of 2020. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize the drug.
According to Toi Hutchinson, the governor’s senior adviser for cannabis control, 37 state dispensaries made 77,128 transactions on Wednesday — amounting to more than $3.17 million in sales.
“The amazing thing about that, is that there’s a significant portion of these dollars that go directly into this community reinvestment fund, so we can continue to rebuild communities that have been hardest hit by the war on drugs,” Hutchinson said. “So, sales are great, but let’s never lose sight of the impact that we’re having on families around this state.”
Legalization in Illinois also means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged. Earlier this week, Prizker granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions.
“There’s many, many more to come,” Hutchinson said.
Thousands of people came out in droves on New Year’s Day to wait in lines in below-freezing temperatures. Some dispensaries even had to limit the amount of product available for purchase due to the immense crowds.
“I don’t even smoke that often,” Cody Lindley told CBS Chicago. “But I was like, ‘it’s a part of history, I live close,’ and I was up for New Year’s Eve so strolled on over.”
“Today is a historic new day, and as we move forward with growing this industry, I thank all those who worked hard to make the launch a success and will continue to dedicate themselves to expanding opportunities and righting the wrongs of the past,” Hutchinson said.
Ten other states and Washington D.C. have legalized smoking or eating marijuana for recreational use since 2012. Several states are expected to vote on recreational marijuana use measures in 2020.
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