For decades, April 20 has been known to marijuana users as “4/20,” an unofficial holiday celebrating cannabis culture.
This year, with recreational cannabis use legal in Illinois since Jan. 1, enthusiasts were looking forward to the sort of mass celebrations that have been banned to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amid a global pandemic.
With social distancing restrictions in place, some smaller dispensaries have been forced to reduce their dispensing to medical marijuana patients only, said Kris Krane, a member of the board of the Cannabis Association of Illinois.
Krane is president of 4Front, a multi-state cannabis company that operates the Mission Dispensary on the South Side of Chicago. In the long term, though, he sees a boost to the industry.
“Ten years ago it would have been nearly impossible to imagine cannabis being an ‘essential service,” he said. “It hadn’t even been legalized in a single state. And yet here we are in the midst of the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes and a major economic downturn, and cannabis is deemed essential.
Krane said he believes that legislation will change for cannabis at the federal level.
“I think that the longer-term implications of this may very well be that when this is all said and done, it’s going to be very difficult for the federal government in particular…to continue to justify keeping cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance.”
Krane also sees states looking at legalization as a tax boost.
“As we move into a recession, and states are doing what they can to gain any kind of revenue to make up for the shortfalls that they’re facing or about to face, they’re going to have to take a look at what’s happened in states with legal cannabis.”