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Illinois Operators Ramp Up Supply Following Strong Rollout

March 3, 2020

After a successful rollout of adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois, the state’s key industry players are focusing on ramping up supply and catering to nascent trends at the consumer level.

While robust demand has depleted inventories in the early going, Cresco Labs, one of Illinois’ main cannabis operators, expects that supply should catch up by spring. “There will be more product and also more dispensaries open to service people all over the state,” notes Jason Erkes, Cresco’s chief communications officer. “It was important for us initially to manage our supply and set limits on what people can buy to make sure we could cater to as many first-time customers as possible.”

Green Thumb Industries has several plans for expansion in the works to alleviate the shortage. “In Illinois, we have a massive capacity expansion project going on in order to serve the market,” says CEO Ben Kovler. “We’re adding more rooms to grow flower, as well as adding scale and sophistication to consumer product production. It’s one thing to be filling vape pens manually; it’s another to be doing tens of thousands at a time. So we’re heavily investing in scaled production.” Green Thumb operates four adult-use dispensaries under the Rise brand, with additional locations to come this year.

Cresco is scheduled to open five more of its Sunnyside stores—two in Chicago and three in the suburbs or downstate—by the end of spring. The company is also expanding its product selection. “Our wholesale products are designed to cater to every type of consumer: the medical patient, the wellness-focused consumer who is looking to treat mild pain or get a better night sleep, and the recreational consumer who is looking for an escape,” Erkes says. “So we’ll be adding new brands and products in the coming months to expand our offerings.”

Turning to trends in the Illinois market, Kovler says the “consumables” segment is thriving. “Incredibles, which is our edibles brand, sells very well in gummies and chocolates,” he says, noting that the company’s Rythm brand is a top-seller in flower and vape.

Flower is by far the top-seller at Verilife dispensaries, according to Jeremy Unruh, director of public and regulatory affairs at parent company PharmaCann. “People are interested in premium bud because that’s what many people who are rediscovering cannabis want to start with before moving into alternative forms,” he explains. The company currently has two cultivation centers in Illinois and plans to open more retail stores as well. “Retail is where our consumer interest sits,” Unruh notes.—Amber Drea

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