Looks like cannabis legalization in Illinois did not come a moment too soon. After opening for business on January 1, the state has seen more than $75 million in sales in its first two months alone.

That money meant beaucoup tax dollars for the state, and a portion of the money has now been directed to support rural pharmacies across Illinois during the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced that nearly $1 million would be released from a “rainy day fund” to subsidize the struggling businesses.

“Our ongoing effort to support rural pharmacies that are being squeezed out by unfair competition and managed care policies now takes on added importance as communities fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” Mendoza said in a statement.

As Mendoza notes, the state had already been attempting to help struggling pharmacies. Last July, the state paid $4.7 million to help keep rural pharmacies afloat and directed another $1.9 to the businesses in December.

The most recent payment is essentially an advance to pharmacies to help provide immediate relief during this health crisis.

“Locally owned pharmacies – often the only pharmacies available for miles in any direction – are vital to stopping the spread of the coronavirus in rural communities,” said Mendoza. “It’s more important than ever that we ensure these payments continue to go out so these small businesses can continue to be there for the people they serve.”

The Illinois Pharmacists Association thanked Mendoza for her action.

“Comptroller Mendoza recognizes the unfair business practices that have pushed pharmacies to the financial brink and inability to properly serve their patients,” said Garth Reynolds, IPA executive director. “Critical access pharmacies will use the released funds to keep their doors open during the pandemic and serve their patients’ needs.”

Photo via Flickr/Dank Depot

Natalie