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dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">With less than three weeks before legal sales of adult-use recreational cannabis begins in Illinois, a medical cannabis supplier set to sell to adults 21 and up says they’ll be competitive with the black market. They say they’ll also have safer products.
Chris Stone with Ascend Illinois, a medical cannabis business that’s been licensed to grow and sell for the state’s adult-use program set to begin Jan. 1, said depending on the product, cannabis on the illicit market can go for around $55 for 3.5 grams of flower. The legal market will be a little bit more expensive, up to $65 for 3.5 grams of flower and even more expensive for oil concentrates and edibles. Legal products will also include taxes of up to 44 percent.
Stone said cannabis legal and regulated products will be draw consumers out of the illicit market and to a state-licensed dispensary.
“I think what we’ve really tried to do though is try to stay in line with the illicit market in hopes that we can draw people to our facilities that understand that we are making a quality product in Illinois that’s been batch tested and is safe for consumers,” Stone said.
Stone said customers on the black market don’t know what they’re buying. Legal consumers will have an abundance of choices at legal stores. Those choices will be a variety of strains of cannabis with different properties, be it in flower, oil or edible form.
One thing Stone warned was to expect a flower shortage because it takes more cannabis flower to produce oils for things like vaping, which is becoming more popular.
Nearly 190 people have reported lung injuries after vaping in Illinois and five people have died.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found most vaping-related lung injury cases across the country were linked to THC products, mostly from the black market.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has said it’s best to avoid vaping altogether.
“The [CDC] found vitamin E acetate in numerous clinical samples of patients with [lung injuries from vaping], including among Illinois residents,” IDPH said in a statement last month. “However, it is not known if this is the cause and if there are other causes. The safest way to protect yourself against [vape related lung injuries] is to avoid the use of any e-cigarette or vaping products.”
Last week, The Hill reported six people in Massachusetts may have had lung injuries related to vaping products bought from regulated and state-licensed dispensaries in that state.
Stone said Ascend has not had any issues with vaping products sold for Illinois’ medical cannabis patients.
“I think the main cause from that was the vitamin E acetate that was injected into them, we’ve never used that,” Stone said. “We use a distillate process that allows for good quality control of our vaping products where they’re safe for all consumers.”
Ascend Illinois Director of Manufacturing David Jerome said a barcode system required by law for every cannabis plant grown in the state allows them to trace the product from seed to sale.
“To ensure that there is no diversion, No. 1,” Jerome said. “But also No. 2, it’s also a mechanism to provide traceability in the event of a quality issue that we need to pull out of the market.”