Everyone appreciates the Illinois adult use cannabis industry, but have you ever wondered how it all worked? Have you wondered where your money goes?  Most people think it goes into the pockets of some giant corporations and some of it indeed does, but not all of it. There are a wide variety of cannabis producers in the state, and they all serve a very important role in bringing the industry to life. We want to inform you of the types of companies that you are doing business with, from the biggest to the smallest, where the industry is now, and where it may be going. So, let’s kick back in the cut fire one up and learn about who provides your weed stuff! 

Multi-State Operators (The Walmart of Weed) 

Multi-State Operators are what most people think of when they think of recreational cannabis. They are the equivalent of a big box store. They are generally publicly traded companies that operate across several states, are backed by big money, can apply for more licenses and therefore end up controlling most of the operating space in the state. The most coveted of these licenses is the Adult-Use Cultivation Center license, which allows for 210,000 square feet (about twice the area of a Manhattan city block)! As strong of a distaste as many may have toward these companies, they are currently a necessity as they have the funding to operate on a large scale.  Without Adult-Use Cultivation Center grows, the state would run out of weed and run out of weed often! Most money generated by Muti-State Operators leaves the state it was generated in to aid the other interests of the company out of state endeavors. They may be a necessity today, but they may not be tomorrow. Let’s get to that later. 

Craft Grow Operators (The Mom-and-Pop Shops of Weed) 

RiverBluff will be opening our craft grow in the next year and will fall into this group, whooo! This license allows for far smaller operations, only 5,000 square feet (about the area of a basketball court) of space, subject to increase or decrease by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Craft grows are generally privately-owned owned companies by residents of the state they reside in. These grows can expand over time but will never come close to the 210,000 square feet that come with the Adult-Use Cultivation Center license. Due to the outrageous start-up cost of 210,000 square foot facility, many craft grow operators have acquired extra craft grow licenses to be able to expand while managing cost. The people who own these companies live in or near the city they operate out of and invest back into those communities, whether it be their city or state. Many of them are very viable in their community for their philanthropy and their drive to educates others on the uses of cannabis. They love the plant and are fighting to lower the prices controlled by the multi-state operators! 

Infusion Operators Only (The Gourmets of Weed) 

While both craft grows and multi-state operators may have an infuser license, there are those who just hold an infuser license. These operators don’t grow but know the importance of cannabis for those who can’t traditionally smoke. They are also smaller organizations that are focused on community growth. They are generally privately owned companies that specialize in vapes and edibles. Because they don’t have to worry about multiple phases of operation, they can focus on making small batch products, refining their recipes to customer’s needs, and innovating new offerings for customers. They fill a vital role in the industry as they always ensure that there are suitable options for those who don’t smoke or just prefer not to. Without companies like these, many people would never get the chance to experience the joys of cannabis. If you’d like to read more about an infuser, look at this article about Enliven Edibles. 

Social Equity Operators (The Comeback Kids of Weed) 

The operators are partially funded through the state’s Social Equity program. The program aims to give back to communities adversely effected by the failed war on cannabis. They are very community driven companies with infusers, craft grow, and dispensary licenses. They are smaller companies focused on making the world better through cannabis. They all have amazing stories and are amazing people like our friends at Galaxy Labs, who became the first minority-owned vertically integrated cannabis company in Illinois! Vertical integration means they can take a seed to sale of a cannabis product with RiverBluff currently in the process of vertically integrating! The more companies that can vertically integrate the quicker we can start to lessen the control that multi-state operators have on the price of cannabis.  

What Does It All Mean? 

As much as multi-state operators are faceless entities taking money out of the state, they are currently a necessity. Not enough craft grow licenses have been issued to fill the needs of the state. As more licenses are issued and the size of a craft grow starts to get redefined, these massive companies will be far less required and control less of the market as a whole. You can help expediate this process by avoiding MSO products when possible. When you see a new name on the menu, ask your budtender about it! Most small operators have amazing stories, and they love to spread their message in the outlets that carry their products. Listen to their stories, buy their products, and help cannaconsumers around the state help loosen the grip of MSOs! You can keep up to date with all the articles and weekly deals by signing up for our email group HERE.