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COVID & The Cannabis Industry

Here are a few of the ways the pandemic has impacted the growing cannabis industry.

Cannabis Profits Soar

The beginning of the pandemic saw crowds of people panic buying essential products in anticipation of potential shortages. Products such as toilet paper, essential foods, and hand sanitizer flew off the shelves faster than suppliers could stock them. This phenomenon extended beyond essential items and affected other industries, including the cannabis industry.

Dispensaries around the country reported a significant increase in sales since the start of the pandemic. While many industries were adversely affected by the regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, the cannabis industry has experienced significant growth. Even before the government-mandated shutdowns and other rules were put in place, cannabis sales had already risen significantly. In the week of March 17th, 2020, the first week in which retail services began experiencing major shutdowns, cannabis dispensaries saw a 30% increase in sales.

Cannabis sales in 2020 reached unprecedented heights, with retail suppliers deemed an essential business in almost every state. Stores and dispensaries remained open throughout the pandemic. Public opinion supported this decision, with surveys showing that 53% of respondents believed that medical cannabis dispensaries should be considered an essential service.

Throughout 2020 nearly $18 billion worth of cannabis products were sold in the U.S. This represents a 67% increase in sales made in 2019. Sales were more than doubled from 2019 in 9 states, and the state of Illinois alone reported over $1 billion worth of legal cannabis sales over the last year.

Customers New To Cannabis

In addition to sales boosts, cannabis dispensaries also reported servicing higher amounts of new customers and increases to the amount each customer spent per visit, as well as a rise in deliveries.

Cannabis Dispensaries & Increased Congressional Support

Increased congressional support has also contributed to the massive growth the industry has experienced over the last year. State representatives and lawmakers actively advocated keeping cannabis shops open throughout the pandemic.

Representatives expressed concern over the effect the closure of shops and dispensaries would have on military veterans. Other government figures passed bills allowing dispensaries in their state to deliver.

Senate support was particularly strong in California, where lawmakers expressed support for Governor Gavin Newsom’s choice to keep cannabis stores and dispensaries open and running during the pandemic.

Additionally, then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) expressed her support on the Senatorial level by co-signing a letter allowing cannabis businesses access to federal loan programs during the crisis.

These trends reflect the increasing acceptance of medical cannabis into mainstream society. Although the pandemic has overall negatively affected most businesses, the cannabis industry has blossomed. In addition to boosting sales, the crisis has also helped lessen the stigmas associated with cannabis usage.