Illinois consumer access to cannabis on the rise, but choices still limited

Chicago, IL—New analysis by experts at Anderson Economic Group shows that consumer access to retail cannabis in Illinois is on the rise. “Four in five Illinois residents now live within a 20-minute drive of an adult-use cannabis dispensary, and three in four are within a 20-minute drive of a medical cannabis dispensary,” said Andrew Miller, a consultant at Anderson Economic Group. (Refer to the maps below for distribution of dispensaries and population across the state, or see the full pdf here).

Illinois Residents in Proximity to Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensaries, 2020

Drive-Time from Dispensary
Share of Total Illinois Population
Near Medical Dispensary
Share of Illinois Population Age 21+
Near Adult-Use Dispensary
10 minutes 40.8% 55.1%
20 minutes 75.6% 80.7%
30 minutes 85.3% 89.6%

Source: Esri, Inc. using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (demographic data); Esri, Inc. using data from HERE Maps (drive-time data); Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (dispensary locations)
Analysis: Anderson Economic Group

Although many residents are now a quick drive away from a retail store, Miller cautioned that proximity is only one measure of market accessibility. “Having a store nearby certainly makes it easier to purchase retail cannabis,” he said, “but it does not necessarily mean consumers have the level of choice they are accustomed to when purchasing other consumer goods.” Miller noted that Illinois’ count of adult-use dispensaries remains relatively low 18 months into legal retail sales. According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR), there are currently 110 adult-use cannabis dispensaries across the state – one for every 117,000 Illinois residents. In contrast, in Michigan – the nearest state where both medical and adult-use cannabis are legal – residents have much greater access to adult-use cannabis, with one licensed adult-use store for every 32,000 residents.

Limited consumer choice can result in less competitive pricing and may be one reason why 70% of cannabis consumed in Illinois comes from sources outside of retail stores, according to Anderson Economic Group estimates. “Access, choice, and pricing are among the factors leading many consumers to purchase cannabis outside of the retail market,” Miller said. Miller estimates that Illinois’ cannabis market was $3.3 billion in 2020, with only $1.0 billion coming from retail stores.

Looking forward, Miller expects the number of dispensaries in Illinois to continue growing. IDFPR is set to issue 185 new adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses through three lotteries. This includes 75 licenses that were originally scheduled to be awarded by May 2020. The addition of these adult-use dispensaries will bring the state total to 295. “These additional dispensaries will offer consumers greater choice and encourage competition between dispensaries,” Miller said.

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About Anderson Economic Group

Anderson Economic Group, LLC, is a boutique research and consulting firm, with offices in East Lansing, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois. The experts at AEG have unrivaled expertise in market and industry analysis and have produced estimates on the size of the cannabis markets and analyzed demand for cannabis in all 50 states since 2015. The firm, founded in 1996, is one of the most recognized boutique consulting firms in the US. AEG serves both public and private organizations including governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, and small business. For more information, see

About Andrew Miller

Mr. Miller is a consultant with Anderson Economic Group. His work focuses on economic and fiscal impact analysis and has included analyses for clients in the higher education, scientific research, and renewable energy sectors. Mr. Miller’s recent projects also include public policy analyses involving the cannabis market, housing affordability, state economic indicators, and infrastructure funding. His cannabis market analysis and commentary has appeared in several market publications, including Benzinga, New Frontier Data, and S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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