Demand for legal marijuana in Illinois would far exceed licensed growers’ ability to supply it, study shows

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Legal recreational marijuana in Illinois could drive demand as high as 550,000 pounds a year, far more than the state’s licensed growers can supply, according to a new study commissioned by state legislators.

The study, performed by the Colorado consulting firm Freedman & Koski, lends support to those who argue that Illinois’ fledgling marijuana industry should expand and diversify, allowing the participation of more black and Latino entrepreneurs — people whose communities have disproportionately suffered during America’s war on drugs.

“We have a whole industry that’s treating it like the gold rush, but you have generations of folks who are still living with all the impacts of what the criminal justice system did to them,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights. “It’s unfair to discuss this in any other way.”

The possibility of full marijuana legalization has stirred up a robust lobbying effort from many of the state’s 16 licensed growers, who have said that absent proof to the contrary, they believe they are capable of meeting demand. Their industry group, the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, has said adding more cultivators could lead to a marijuana glut that would encourage illegal diversion. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]