As the world keeps struggling to fight off the recent viral pandemic, pot businesses are being deemed ‘essential’ amid a COVID-19 (coronavirus) sales surge. Cannabis customers across the country are stocking up on hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and other essential items while following the government’s social distancing guidelines. Cannabis is one of those essentials.
Cannabis Businesses Are Essential
In all of the craziness and panic, many cities and states such as New York, San Francisco, and Palm Springs, California are deeming cannabis dispensaries ‘essential’ to people at this moment in time. Some cannabis businesses can remain open with some limitations. Dispensaries are taking every precaution available by boosting delivery and pickup options.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, for example, announced a statewide shelter in place order, which would keep millions of Californians at home unless they have an essential reason to go out. Violating the mandate is a misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, or both.
In some California markets, however, cannabis businesses have been deemed essential businesses even when a shelter-in-place order has been issued. Los Angeles issued an order on Thursday, March 19, designating cannabis dispensaries as essential because “they provide services that are recognized to be critical to the health of the city.”
Cannabis has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms such as chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, spasticity, anxiety, and more. Allowing dispensaries to remain open provides those with severe anxiety or other medical conditions to buy from legal shops instead of restoring to buying untested products from the black market.
Cannabis Sales Surge Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak has shuttered down restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms, and other non-essential commercial activity. Cannabis businesses, however, have seen a dramatic and surprising boost in sales across the nation and in other legal countries. Customers are stocking up on marijuana as they prepare for a long quarantine amid government lockdowns.
Sales in Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have seen a sales boost according to data company Headset. Sales are 75 percent higher than average in Oregon starting with a sales surge that began on March 16. Sales are up, but customers are also picking up a larger-than-average basket size to wait out the lockdown.
Matt Karnes of marijuana data firm GreenWave Advisors told the Reno Gazette Journal, “the supply chain continues to show signs of vulnerability and for the cannabis consumer mindful of potential inventory shortages, this could trigger the decision to purchase more product upfront.”
In California, online delivery company Eaze said orders jumped 38 percent on Monday, March 16, compared to the annual average. The number of deliveries increased by 38 percent too. Eaze sign-ups went up 105 percent. Deliveries to first-time customers increased by over 50 percent.
Another online directory, Weedmaps, saw a significant jump in delivery and pickup orders. In California, the company saw a 66 percent increase in order volume in the second week of March compared to the first week. Dispensaries are adding new delivery vehicles to keep up with the rising demand.
Colorado is another state that has attempted to keep the marijuana market alive within its borders. Colorado recently granted a delivery permit to Native Roots Dandelion medical marijuana dispensary to deliver products, especially during this coronavirus threat.
During these hectic times, dispensaries are working to keep their employees and customers virus-free. Dispensaries are providing hand sanitizer, especially in this all-cash business, and regularly cleaning all surfaces in areas where customers pick up their weed such as tables, registers, and doors.
Dispensaries are also limiting the number of customers that can be inside of a shop at any one time. Some shops are even providing curbside pickup. Employees are required to carry out curbside orders wearing medical-grade gloves.
For customers who want to consume marijuana during the coronavirus outbreak, check out CTU’s coronavirus guide on how users can protect themselves around coronavirus, how to sanitize smoking tools, how to shop at dispensaries during this time, and how coronavirus will affect the cannabis industry as a whole.
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*Things change frequently and this was the facts as of March 24th, 2020. Colorado has already changed; Denver now considers recreational marijuana and liquor stores to be essential, and Boulder plans to follow suit.