According to a recent article from the cannabis industry publication Grown In, new data reveals that some dispensary owning cultivators in Illinois have been shown to unfairly favor the stocking of their own shelves with cannabis products in recent months. This practice has been taking place despite a nearly 300% boost in cannabis production in Illinois between March 2019 and March 2020. During that same time frame, those cultivators decreased their overall sales to independent dispensaries from 86.2% to 72.2%. As a result, independently owned dispensaries like Herbal Remedies Dispensaries have increasingly found it difficult to stock their own shelves with cannabis products from select Illinois cultivators. This data found in the article came from BioTrack, the leading software utilized by Illinois cannabis companies and state regulators to track cannabis products from seed to sale.
“Through mid-year 2019, pretty much immediately after the [Cannabis] Tax Act was passed, we began seeing a decrease in our deliveries, and in the second half of 2019 those decreases continued into the first of the year,” said Christine Wildrick, co-owner of Herbal Remedies Dispensary in her statement to Grown In. Some dispensary owning cultivators “are dictating to us for the most part what we can and cannot have’’ Wildrick explained. “It’s obvious that they are supplying their dispensaries and giving them priority.’’
Illinois cannabis law forbids dispensaries from having more than 40% of their supply from any one cultivator. As claimed in the article by an anonymous industry insider, dispensary owning cultivators have essentially orchestrated “product swaps” amongst one another to ensure they do not exceed the 40% supply rule. This tactic has allowed these entities to deceptively avoid violation of the law yet it puts independently owned dispensaries at a significant disadvantage to stock their shelves.
Independently owned dispensaries attempt to purchase as many cannabis products as possible but the cultivator has the final say in how much the dispensary ultimately receives. The disadvantage in purchasing power dealt to independently owned dispensaries is eventually felt by medical patients and recreational/adult use patrons in the form of limited product availability on dispensary menus.
Given our close proximity to the Illinois/Missouri/Iowa state borders, we see our fair share of out-of-state medical cannabis cardholders. Missouri itself began its medical cannabis program in 2019 and has issued patient cards but has yet to open dispensaries. In fact, the state’s first cultivator wasn’t approved until just last week and cannabis products aren’t projected to hit shelves until January 2021 at the earliest. Unbeknownst to many Missouri patients, Illinois medical dispensaries cannot lawfully serve out-of-state cardholders. However, these individuals can shop at Illinois recreational/adult use dispensaries as product availability allows.
Our inability to provide a vast selection of cannabis products at times for all individuals weighs heavily on our hearts but much of it extends beyond our control. We hope that this article doesn’t go unnoticed by executives working at dispensary owning Illinois cultivators. Please put those who seek out cannabis for health and wellness reasons at the forefront instead of profit. Grant independently owned dispensaries the fairness they deserve so that we can adequately provide their customers the cannabis products they need.