Long lines, closures and shortages of product have frustrated consumers of legal weed in Illinois since the first of the year. MJ shortages aren’t a coincidence. Illinois kept the market small on purpose.

But state officials said the slow start to the sale of recreational marijuana was intentional, and one that cultivators also wanted. Both, however, say the eventual goal is a market where supply and demand are in balance.

Regulators sought to “intentionally slow things down to make sure we made space for new entrance to the market,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s senior adviser on cannabis, better known unofficially as the Illinois “pot czar.”

Similar shortages have been part of in every marijuana market after legalization, said Chris Lindsey, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. Lindsey helped state officials draft legal marijuana legislation. Cultivators predicted shortages even before recreational use became legal.

The state never disclosed plans for the slow approach to the public as they were drafting the law, Lindsey said, but “it was certainly a conversation among public agencies.” After exploring different options, that path made the most sense, he said.
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