FILE - Cannabis Marijuana, Illinois, 2020

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, photo, the cannabis flower is trimmed at Revolution Global's cannabis cultivation center in Delavan, Illinois.

(The Center Square) – Since legal sales began in January, Illinois’ adult-use cannabis stores have sold more than $500 million worth of the drug, and sales continue to increase despite the pandemic.

While restaurants and bars across the state experience continued losses because of more COVID-19 mitigation orders, Illinois’ 73 adult-use cannabis stores sold more than $75.2 million of pot in October.

Sales for the recreational stores across the state have continued to grow month-after-month. October sales were $7.6 million more than the month before.

Since September, the state added nine more dispensaries that only sell adult-use cannabis, not medical cannabis, which comes at much lower tax rates than the upward of 40 percent tax on recreational pot. A special license is needed to access medical cannabis.

October’s sales figures published by the state earlier this month brings the total to more than $506 million.

For the sales taxes from adult-use cannabis remitted to the comptroller in October, the state brought in $21 million, nearly a million more than the month before. Since the start of the program, that’s a total of $127 million.

The revenue is divided up among several funds. Around 35 percent goes to general state spending. Ten percent goes to the state’s backlog of bills. As of Friday, that total was $7.9 billion. A quarter of every pot tax dollars goes to a fund for nonprofit community groups in certain areas, a fifth of the revenue goes to substance abuse and mental health services. Eight percent goes to local law enforcement.

Early in the pandemic, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order, he allowed cannabis dispensaries to remain open, declaring them essential. Other retail he declared were not essential were closed for more than two months.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.