Marijuana eases budget pain for Chicago and Cook County – Crain’s Chicago Business

Chicago and Cook County, which together account for more than a quarter of the state’s recreational marijuana sales, are beginning to see some welcome tax receipts from weed at a time when other revenue sources are sputtering.

The city and county each charge the maximum 3 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales. According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, Chicago received $240,236 for July, the first month municipalities could charge the taxes. Cook County took in $495,310 because it taxes sales in Chicago as well as other parts of the county.

Chicago is on track to surpass its modest revenue goal of $1 million for this year by more than 40 percent. The county, whose fiscal year ends in November and which didn’t budget any revenue from marijuana taxes, is on pace to ring up $2.5 million in revenue.

“That is the one industry that has done very, very well in 2020,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says.

Facing a budgetary squeeze from the coronavirus, the city and county are looking for big increases in weed tax revenue next year. Cook County expects about $14 million, and the city forecasts about $5 million.

Neither the city nor the county can afford to come up short. In a proposed $12.8 billion Chicago budget, $5 million feels like a rounding error until you consider that Lightfoot plans to bump up already unpopular taxes on gasoline and cloud-computing services to raise just $25 million.

The city could hit its goal if cannabis