ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There’s new evidence that Missouri is now winning a suddenly blossoming “weed war” with Illinois. 

In the first two months since Missouri legalized recreational marijuana, the number of people going to Illinois to buy marijuana has dropped sharply. The number of people coming the other way to buy it in Missouri is off the charts. 

People already come from Illinois for cheaper cigarettes in Missouri. The same is certainly true for gasoline. Those are nothing compared to what people are saving on marijuana by getting it in Missouri rather than Illinois. 

“It was $30 to $40 cheaper,” said Bud Rhodes, of Red Bud, Illinois, who went to Missouri to buy marijuana on Thursday. 

He said he passed 3–4 Illinois dispensaries en route to the Nature Med dispensary on Kingston in south St. Louis County. 

“If we’re from Red Bud coming up here, I bet there’s hundreds and hundreds of other people coming, especially the bigger towns closer to here,” Rhodes said. 

He was 100% correct about that, according to dispensary manager Jessica Snider.

“It’s just been nothing but a healthy flow and trickle of more and more Illinois patients (customers) every day,” she said. “I think Illinois has kind of dug themselves into a really deep hole that they’re going to have a tough time digging themselves out of.” 

Snider was referring to the state’s high marijuana sales taxes. 

Customers ring in the 2020 New Year, celebrating Illinois’s legalization of recreational marijuana sales. Recreational sales were still against the law in Missouri. There were long lines at Illinois dispensaries. 

Those lines have quickly faded. Missouri voters legalized recreational marijuana sales in November 2022, with actual sales beginning on February 3, 2023. 

A new report from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation shows sales to out-of-state residents are down 17% from March 2022 closer to 30% near St. Louis, according to industry experts. Sky-high sales taxes in Illinois are a major factor along with traditional sales taxes, Illinois taxes marijuana by up to an additional 25% based on its THC level.   

“So, an eighth (of an ounce of marijuana) here can be $25–$30. An eighth there (in Illinois) can be $80,” said Tom Bommarito, owner of GreenLight Dispensaries in St. Louis. “There is a big difference when you add all the taxes to it. It’s very important.” 

“That’s a hefty chunk of change for somebody,” Rhodes said. “We’re going to go eat with that money.”

“I wouldn’t touch Illinois with a 10-foot pole, man,” Snider said.   

Illinois lawmakers said they’re aware of what’s happening, but there have been no proposals yet to lower taxes to combat the “Missouri effect.”