Millions of Americans are confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has apparently been good for the cannabis industry.
Headset, a cannabis market research company, has been monitoring how the outbreak has affected marijuana businesses around the world. On Tuesday, it reported 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.
There is an exception to the trend: Nevada, where marijuana retailers have apparently been hurt by an abrupt drop in foot traffic. COVID-19 has forced the Las Vegas strip to go dark, turning an area normally teeming with tourists into a relative ghost town. Nevada marijuana retailers now have enough inventory to last 13.8 weeks, nearly double what they had before the pandemic, according to Headset’s data.
Liz Connors, director of analytics at Headset, told the New York Times that marijuana sales spiked by more than 150% after a stay-at-home order was issued for residents in the San Francisco bay area. On March 16, Headset reported that adult use cannabis sales in Oregon were a whopping 75% higher than the preceding four Mondays before it.
“It shows that a lot of people think cannabis is just another consumer good, like beer or wine,” Connors said.
Steve Allan, the president of the California-based cannabis business Caliva, said its delivery business has seen double-digit growth thus far in March, as well as an increase in its delivery services across all of its locations. The last two weeks, Allan said, have brought “record breaking sales.”
“We know that many cannabis users rely on our products and services for their ongoing well-being, so having a delivery option that can continue to service them during these unprecedented times is something we’re proud to keep up and running, of course with the safety of our own employees and our community front of mind,” Allan said.
Shareef El-Sissi, the CEO of the California cannabis company Eden Enterprises, said that the pandemic has been a watershed moment for the industry.
“I believe cannabis retail will never be the same. Retailers have been forced to pivot towards a digital first approach and customers have quickly adjusted to the new norm,” El-Sissi said. “When the quarantining is over, I think customers will continue to use digital channels to purchase cannabis. This is more inline with the order online, pick up in store trend sweeping traditional retail as well.” He said that the outbreak represented the “first panic buying event” for cannabis retail.”
California, like a number of other states where pot is legal, has deemed marijuana businesses “essential” during the pandemic, a recognition of its legitimacy as a medical treatment. The state is in the midst of a near-total lockdown, with residents ordered to stay home. Elsewhere around the country, people have anxiously stayed home in an effort to avoid getting infected, and to reduce community spread of the virus.