COLLINSVILLE — Anyone expecting customer interest to wane on day two of legal recreational marijuana sales in Illinois would be wrong.
“It’s actually trending a little higher,” said Kathleen Olivastro, in comparing Thursday’s waiting line to Wednesday’s opening day. Olivastro is regional director for the Collinsville dispensary HCI Alternatives.
In total, the Collinsville dispensary served about 2,000 people on Wednesday, said Chris McCloud, HCI Alternatives spokesman. In Springfield, Illinois, just over 1,000 people purchased pot at an HCI location. The Chicago Tribune reported $3.2 million in sales statewide on the first day.
By 7 a.m. on New Year’s Day, 700 people were waiting in line at the St. Louis area’s only dispensary to legally buy pot for recreational use.
Between 4 and 5 p.m. that day, the shop’s staff began estimating how many of the people who were still in line could be served by closing time at 9 p.m. They placed a temporary metal barricade, and those behind it were told they might not be able to make a purchase on Wednesday. They included a man who’d ridden his bike from St. Louis.
Some decided to stick it out and were rewarded. The barricade was moved back several times as customers moved through the store. But around 7 p.m., the line was cut off for the day.
Because of security concerns, HCI Alternatives is wary of sharing sales figures. But if an Illinois resident wanted to buy the maximum allowed in each of three categories of product available, they could spend almost $1,000.
Despite the crowd, the Collinsville dispensary ran out of just two products on Wednesday: the Platinum Valley flower and a vape cartridge called Tropicana Cookies.
Cannabis products that HCI Alternatives offers for recreational customers are on the store’s website. The medical menu has more to offer. Olivastro said if an extreme shortage of product developed, recreational sales would be curbed to make sure enough product was available for medical patients.
For now, she said, HCI Alternatives will be offering a “dim sum” recreational menu.
“It’s easy for folks, they can check off what they want on the paper menus, and it makes it quicker for us,” she said. “As the newness settles down, we will open it up.”
Then she added: “If it settles down!”
Olivastro said the company is prepared for a crowd this week, and for crazy-crowded weekends, into the foreseeable future.
On social media, people were speculating about prices dropping as more dispensaries open and people get used to having legal, recreational pot available. But Olivastro said prices may not drop much, unless the state changes its tax rates.
Cannabis sales could generate $250 million for Illinois by 2022, according to estimates by state officials.
Illinois already allowed medical marijuana, but it is now the 11th state to allow sales and use for recreational purposes. The law approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker allows people 21 or older to possess up to 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of cannabis concentrate.
Recreational users in St. Louis are still subject to Missouri law, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner advised in a statement on Thursday:
“Currently our office is not prosecuting stand alone marijuana cases involving 100 grams or less,” said the statement. “With this new law, we will carefully monitor on a case by case basis, and will be reviewing our policies to ensure we are enforcing the laws of Missouri.”
HCI Alternatives in Collinsville, which will change its name on Jan. 27 to Illinois Supply and Provisions, will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
McCloud said crowds will likely taper.
“There’s only one Day One,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.