The coronavirus pandemic has brought mixed results to the marijuana industry. While some markets have seen a surge in deliveries, many dispensaries have seen a sharp dip in sales over the last month with would-be customers confined to their homes due to stay-at-home orders.
The latter tells the story in Nevada, where the normally vibrant tourism industry has been brought to a virtual standstill. The lights have gone down on the Vegas strip, and that means fewer customers are lighting up. Local television outlet Fox 11 said that the state’s department of taxation “has noted a shortfall in funds from March into April from the marijuana excise tax, in which 10 percent of proceeds go directly to state funding for education.”
Will Adler, Director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, told the outlet that 80 percent of recreational and medical marijuana sales in Nevada are generated by visitors to the state.
“Believe it or not, the marijuana industry is about to change forever,” Adler said. “”Mainly in the Las Vegas area, most tourists come to experience something they may not have in their state.” Although Adler said that no dispensary in Nevada has gone out of business due to the coronavirus shutdown, the tax shortfall is more evidence that the state has not seen a surge in cannabis sales during the pandemic like in other parts of the country.
Headset, a cannabis market research company, reported last month that marijuana inventory levels had declined in most states because consumers were purchasing at higher rates than usual. In California, for example, a typical marijuana retailer had enough cannabis inventory to last nearly five weeks; now, as a result of increased demand, those retailers have enough for 3.6 weeks. The story is the same in Washington, which along with Colorado became one of the first two states to vote to legalize recreational pot use for adults back in 2012. There, retailers had enough inventory to last five-and-a-half weeks before the coronavirus pandemic; now, they have enough for 4.4.
But at the same time, Headset identified Nevada as an outlier to that trend, with marijuana retailers in the state taking an immediate hit from an abrupt drop in foot traffic. While those other states were plowing through their inventories, Nevada marijuana retailers had enough inventory to last nearly 14 weeks, according to Headset.