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THIS WEEK: Illinois is going to pot (and in a big way)

Another round of cannabis license announcements to be made in August

MACOMB, Ill. — Chicago's Lollapalooza was a big hit this summer in more than one way.

Marijuana sales at Chicago area dispensaries boomed during the four day music festival.

It help boost pot sales last month.

Illinois dispensaries sold a record $127.8-million in recreational marijuana in July.

That's 10-percent bigger than the last record set just two months before when. $116.4 million was sold in May.

"The retail sales for recreational cannabis in Illinois alone averages $40-million each month since it's been legalized," said Western Illinois University Anthropology professor Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, one of the co-creators of WIU's "Cannabis and Culture" major.

You can listen to our entire interview with Heather McIlvaine-Newsad on THE CITIES PODCAST.

Illinois continues to grow the green in more than one way.

Total marijuana sales reached just over a billion dollars last year, including more than $366-million in medical marijuana sales.

"That's a lot of money that can be used for infrastructure, there's pot for potholes, you know, all kinds of things," said McIlvaine-Newsad.

Western Illinois University has two cannabis minors

McIlvaine-Newsad and the Anthropology Department started the "Cannabis and Culture" interdisciplinary minor last year.

It's now one of two Western Illinois University minor programs that deals with pot.

The Agriculture School's "Cannabis Production" minor looks at growing, testing, and selling marijuana.

Starting its second year this Fall, no other Illinois university has such a program.

"For this generation of students, it's not a taboo subject," said McIlvaine-Newsad.

"It's just another subject to be studied." 

More licenses to be awarded

Illinois is continuing to hold lotteries for future cannabis dispensary licenses.

One lottery held in early August 2021 was aimed at improving the chance for minorities to get into the business.

The state is "trying to allow underrepresented groups into the industry," said Mcilvaine-Newsad.

"It really is groundbreaking nationally."

The lottery held on August 9 awarded a conditional use dispensary license to Deeprootz, LLC for Region #7 that includes the Illinois Quad Cities.

Another lottery, to be held August 19, 2021, will award yet another 75 licenses.

You can watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.