Cannabis has long been an important element in countercultures throughout the years, from the Blues and Jazz subcultures in the 1920s to the hippies in the 60s to 70s. Progressive legislation is slowly removing the plant from its reputation as a counterculture symbol and is bringing it into the mainstream market primarily for medical, even recreational reasons. You might wonder, ‘is weed legal in Chicago?’
In the United States, 33 out of 50 states, plus the federal District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, 11 of which have made adult-use recreational marijuana legal, including DC. This has proven to be a great economic move as the marijuana industry has significantly impacted the US economy.
Cannabis has boosted tax revenues in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal, while also generating jobs for the workforce in such states. Moreover, it opened a variety of business opportunities for marijuana entrepreneurs and other related industries. While businesspeople have more openings to establish cannabis businesses in legal states, it is important to remember that every state has laws and regulations pertaining to marijuana cultivation, processing, distribution, possession, and consumption.
If you live in Chicago, Illinois and you are interested in opening or are currently running a marijuana business, it is important to take note of the cannabis laws in the state. Here’s what you need to know about related laws in Illinois and cannabis marketing in the state:
Marijuana Laws in Illinois
The most important thing you should know about cannabis laws in Illinois is that it is one of the states where weed is legal is that the state has both medical and recreational marijuana. With Governor J.B. Pritzker’s approval of The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and its transition into law, the local government now allows adult residents to grow up to 5 plants. Individuals over 21 years old can also carry up to 30 grams of buds and up to 5 grams of concentrates on their person. Possessing up to 500mg of THC in infused products is also allowed.
Through the Medical Cannabis Patient Program (MCPP), individuals can apply for a medical marijuana card. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) lets residents apply for a patient registry identification card given that they satisfy the eligibility requirements. Applicants should be at least 18 years old and residents of the state during application and participation. They must also have a qualifying medical condition or symptom that is debilitating and chronic. Submission of a certification from a qualified physician is required.
However, individuals who hold a school bus permit or commercial driver’s license, as well as those who are active law enforcement, correction, correctional probational officers and firefighters are not qualified.
The new law, which became effective on the first day of 2020, has also enabled entrepreneurs to open up dispensaries provided that they have the right licenses through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Any business intending to engage in cannabis should acquire a license from this Department in compliance with the law.
This includes facilities that are involved in growing, processing, transporting and distributing the plant. Deliveries are also allowed but only those with transportation licenses can transport and deliver products. Individuals can apply for licenses through the IDFPR, as well.
A Word About Cannabis Legalization in the U.S.
Marijuana laws in Illinois may be more accepting of the plant, but keep in mind that such laws only apply in the state. As a federal country, the U.S. lets individual states legislate and execute state laws, but an overall law still governs the country on the federal level. This is why it is important to take note of federal laws pertaining to marijuana.
On the federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I substance and is listed among drugs that are proven to be harmful such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Because of this classification, some industries refuse to cater to related matters. This includes the traditional banking sector.
Meanwhile, one of the most important development in legislation on this level is that the federal government recently approved the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Act), which legalized the commercial cultivation, processing and marketing of industrial hemp. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a variety of the cannabis plant known to have low levels of THC and high levels of CBD. Industrial hemp is touted as potentially the new cash and energy crop because of its many uses such as being a source of fiber and CBD.
How can all this affect your business, you ask? The refusal of some industries to work with the cannabis sector can lead to it being underbanked. As a business owner, you might need to look for non-traditional ways to store your money and to make cashless transactions. Your options include progressive banking institutions and financial technology services.
The Chicago Cannabis Market
Now that you know more about state and federal laws surrounding marijuana, you may be ready to take your business to the next level. This involves looking at your potential market in Chicago. While you might have a captive audience with medical marijuana patients, you might want to expand your coverage to recreational users. Because of this, it is important to look at Chicago’s market as a whole.
Illinois is known as the 6th most populated state in the US with 12,658,682 residents. Of all cities in the state, Chicago has the highest populated one with 2,294,236 people. It is estimated to have 94.5 males for every 100 females. When it comes to age, Chicago has an average of 34.3 years.
With a relatively young adult population, this city definitely opens up new opportunities for marijuana businesses and cannabis marketing.
3 Key Tips for Marketing Marijuana in Chicago
With the large population in Chicago, the city is known to have a significant number of dispensaries. In fact, half of the cannabis tourists in Illinois go to Chicago. Because of this, you want to make sure that your business stands out among the number of industry players. Digital marketing is your best bet when it comes to keeping up with the competition. In practicing this, here are 3 key tips you should consider.
Engage Your Market
When running a physical business, you do not merely set up shop and wait for customers to arrive. You also talk with your clients, answer their questions and give them recommendations. The same principle applies when you market your products through digital means.
You want to open a line of communication to help improve your engagements with your customers. Your website plays a part in doing this. You can place a query form or even an instant messaging feature on the site. Your site can also serve to inform your clients about other means of communication.
For a more engaging online persona, why not create cannabis business social network accounts? This is an advantageous step, especially as your target market is likely to be active on social media. Make sure to create an official Facebook page, as well as an Instagram and Twitter account to keep your customers updated. This can also serve as a communication line for your clients.
Put Your Name on the Map
As mentioned, the competition in Chicago is fierce. This is why you want to make sure that you put your name on the map. You can do this by creating a strong online presence. This can be effective especially with the relatively young population in the city.
To do this, you want to make sure that you take full advantage of what digital marketing has to offer, from launching a website to paid advertisements and cannabis SEO or search engine optimization. Your website will serve as your front on the internet, much like your actual physical location. It can help establish your brand to appeal to your market better.
Upon launching your website, you can now create relevant, high-quality, and keyword- and meta-tag rich images, texts and videos which you can put up on your site through web content and blog posts. These can lead potential customers to your website with the help of Google Paid Ads and search engine optimization.
Manage Your Reputation
Now, every customer has their own standards when it comes to the quality of products and services. Great customer service and honest presentation of high-quality products can result in good reviews and positive feedback.
However, there are times when you will receive negative comments. The best way to address this is through proper reputation management. There are a lot of things you can do to manage your reputation such as releasing blogs that highlight the positive qualities of your business.
What’s the Next Big Step?
Your business and marketing strategies matter when it comes to ensuring the success of your marijuana venture. With these 3 important digital marketing practices, you can boost your sales and get ahead of the competition. Need help in doing so? Your next big step should be to get in touch with the right cannabis marketing agency for your CBD marketing, marijuana SEO, and website needs. This way, you will have experts working to help your business achieve the success it deserves.