Illinois Pot Taxes Supporting Rural Pharmacies During Outbreak

Rural pharmacies in Illinois are receiving financial support from cannabis taxes earmarked for the state’s ‘rainy day fund,’ officials announced recently. Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced last month that nearly $1 million would be released to critical access pharmacies providing essential services to rural communities during the ongoing public health emergency.

“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 on March 19 in a press release.

The payments, totaling $946 million, came from cannabis taxes paid each month into the state’s rainy day fund, a cash reserve maintained to cover expenses during difficult financial times. The cannabis taxes paid into the fund in March came to a total of $1.1 million.

The funds were directed to an existing program designed to support rural pharmacies that receive low reimbursements from the state’s managed care programs and are subject to being taken advantage of by companies that set prices for drugs. The state began making payments to these critical access pharmacies in July with a release of $4.7 million, followed by another $1.9 million

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