Although it's early days, it seems recreational marijuana legalization is a boon for the state of Illinois.

Its Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said in a press release that sales of licensed recreational product were just over $39.2 million in January -- the first month that this type of marijuana was legal for sale and consumption in the state. That financial figure broke down to a bit more than 972,000 items sold by dispensaries.

Estimates vary as to how large this could get; recently, Arcview and BDS Analytics projected that Illinois could reach recreational cannabis sales topping $1.1 billion in 2024.

Illinois road sign with cannabis leaf.

Image source: Getty Images.

One revealing statistic within the $39.2 million January sales number was the $8.6 million in product sold to out-of-state residents. That comprises 22% of the total. It also stands to reason, as Illinois is one of the few Midwestern states in which recreational marijuana is legal. Also, none of the five states sharing a land border with Illinois has yet sanctioned this form of the drug.

Illinois charged into recreational legalization, allowing a large number of dispensaries to sell product. Two companies that have staked out an early claim to the Illinois market are Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF) and Cresco Labs (OTC:CRLBF), both of which are headquartered in Chicago. With their small networks of dispensaries in the state, Green Thumb and Cresco saw robust sales in the very early stages.

In spite of the good news from their home state, neither marijuana stock's price rose on Tuesday. Green Thumb slumped by almost 3%, while Cresco fell a bit over 1%.

 
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