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Recreational marijuana shortages may last up to 2 years says CEO

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The first week of recreational adult-use cannabis sales hit nearly $11 million statewide. Over 270,000 transactions were made in that span. One of the most commonly used phrases around dispensaries however, "they're out of flower."

"We're still rationing the flower that we have. But you can get your limit as far as concentrates and edibles go."

Greg Gossett, Rise Canton

Rise Canton was the only Central Illinois dispensary carrying marijuana flower, the commonly used form, on January 1st. They limited each customer to 1/8 oz. or about 3.5 grams. Less than a week later we returned to Rise. Two customers walking out when we arrived had been there on January 1st also. Craig and Emilie Hendrix said, "They're all out of flower."

Gossett said, "we're struggling through it. We're still pretty decent, we have a limited, very limited flower supply." He's optimistic the shortage won't be a long term hassle for their business. "There will definitely be intermittent shortages of the supply. But i suspect a month down the road things will be a thousand times better than what you see today and there won't be limits on the amount of flower you can purchase," Gossett explained.

But not so fast. One of 20 cultivation centers statewide is located in nearby Delavan. CEO of Revolution Global, Mark de Souza, said the challenge of meeting the demand may take longer than expected. Their 80 acre campus is undergoing massive construction to add a "super-facility" for growing and processing more marijuana to meet demands.

"Thats a challenge we're going to be facing as an industry for a little bit here, and maybe as long as 18 to 24 months."

Mark de Souza, CEO Revolution Global

But why is the industry falling short of demand? De Souza said there are a number of issues, but it's fairly simple. Cultivators weren't willing to invest in their operation until they knew for sure the legislation would pass. May 31, 2019 is when it was passed. That leaves roughly 7 months until the first sale. De Souza said they had already been operating to fill the need of medical marijuana in the state, but "That demand has just surged way faster than what current suppliers have the ability to produce under the current legal framework."

Another reason for a possible lengthy shortage is the amount of space cultivators are allowed to grow. De Souza said in a report the state of Illinois estimates they will need around 1.7 million square feet of growing space to meet a demand for medical and recreational marijuana. But by their numbers, de Souza believed the state needs more than double that.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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