COVID-19

Pot sales on the rise in some states with people home due to COVID-19

Mitchell Hartman Apr 20, 2020
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Cannabis sales are still up compared to last April in major markets like California, Washington and Colorado. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
COVID-19

Pot sales on the rise in some states with people home due to COVID-19

Mitchell Hartman Apr 20, 2020
Cannabis sales are still up compared to last April in major markets like California, Washington and Colorado. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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It is Monday, April 20, which means it’s also 4/20 — the ad hoc international holiday to celebrate marijuana use and legalization.

You would think anything that involves large groups of people joining together, listening to music and speeches about legalizing pot and sparking up some joints would be cancelled in this year of COVID-19.

But organizers are calling for the celebrations to go ahead — safely, with no public gatherings, but instead virtual ones, online.

Pandemic or not, the recreational marijuana industry is doing just fine.

Oregon is one of 11 states where it’s legal for adults to use recreational marijuana. Many businesses are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but pot stores are staying open, many of them preferring curbside service.

This store in Portland, Oregon, that sells marijuana legally is permitted to remain open under statewide COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Of 11 states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use, only Massachusetts has ordered its stores closed. (Mitchell Hartman/Marketplace)

Cannabis retailers are deemed “essential” — it’s the same in most states where recreational marijuana is legal.

And sales have held up well, says Troy Dayton at the Arcview market research group.

“At the beginning of this, sort-of mid-March, there was a huge spike in sales,” Dayton said. “As people were panic buying, this was one of the products that they were stocking up on.”

Cannabis sales are still up compared to last April in major markets like California, Washington and Colorado.

Christian Groh, at investment firm Privateer Holdings, says it’s not surprising.

“Cannabis, much like alcohol, has the potential to be a counter-cyclical product,” Groh said. “Counter-cyclical businesses make products that actually see increased demand in times of economic distress.”

The cannabis business is volatile. Last year, several high-profile startups saw their stock soar, then fall back down to earth.

“There was a bit of overvaluation happening, there was a bubble that kind-of burst on it, not dissimilar to what we saw during the dot-com bubble,” Dayton said.

Eli McVey, at Marijuana Business Daily, predicts strong sales growth will continue once the COVID-19 economic crisis is past

“We’re seeing new consumers. Gen Z is just now coming of age, over 21,” McVey said.

The pandemic will delay legalization efforts in new markets, like Missouri and New York.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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