How the cannabis industry is faring this pandemic

Published May 4, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Marvin Samuel Tolentino Pineda

Safe distancing and internet binging are how many are surviving the pandemic, but businesses today are also feeling the effects of the virus. The cannabis space is no different than the people that it serves, and it is experiencing challenges and opportunities too. Let's be observant and look at how the cannabis space is faring during the pandemic.

Erratic sales

Cannabis dispensaries are being declared an essential service in most of the states in America and all of Canada.  This has created a swinging pendulum in the cannabis dispensaries. Hoarding cannabinoids is creating swings in demand for the product. Some states in America, including Massachusetts, ordered the cannabis dispensaries to be closed. This caused the number of applications for medical marijuana cards to explode, where over 1,300 applications were processed within ten days.

California allowed cannabis dispensaries to remain open. However, the lines that were forming at the adult-use cannabis dispensaries were deemed a health risk by Denver's mayor, and the decision to remain open was reversed. The disruption in the labour force during this pandemic will also have effects on the industry. Disruptions of the workers who process, cultivate and ship cannabis oil products will remain unpredictable for the time going forward.


COVID-19 has put a scare into the lives of many smokers, including cannabis partakers, because the lungs are the crucial affected organ when COVID-19 strikes. The more traditional smoking, vaping, and other inhaled products have dropped in sales. However, there is a noticeable increase in the sale of edibles and tinctures. Perhaps the train of thought is in keeping the lungs pure and free of smoke.

Another consideration that is noticed is the ceasing of smoking or vaping in the current orders to shelter in place. There is a change made in consideration for those living in close quarters, and cannabis users are choosing another form of using cannabinoids today. Who knows, perhaps after this pandemic, inhaled products may return to the level of consumption that was present before the COVID-19 virus reared its ugly head.

Changes in purchasing habits

The orders put in place by the government include social-distancing and sheltering in place, and neither of these positions is suitable for business at the average cannabis dispensary. People are not visiting these stores now, as the industry has had to make changes and incorporates different manners of doing commerce. Cannabis dispensaries have taken the forward steps to introduce curbside purchasing and deliveries to stay open.

The technology companies who are providing information on delivery technology are seeing huge spikes in their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One wonders as we move forward and accept the new ways of doing business, whether or not most consumers will ever return to the actual cannabis dispensary. The experts believe that most of them will continue with the online manner of doing business.


CBD and wellness

Health issues and boosting the immune system are a hot topic as the COVID-19 remains entrenched in our lives. Consumers are looking at health-focused products like CBD oil for comfort and relief. Interestingly CBD establishments have not been given the essential business stamp. However, there has been a noticed increase in the sales of such cannabinoid products since the beginning of this pandemic.

Stretching the greenback dollar

The past year has seen premium and high-end cannabis products paraded on the market. Experts have been quoted as saying that this is not a sustainable plan. Perhaps they saw more than most people. With uncertain economic futures and massive unemployment rates, consumers are looking for bargain deals on cannabis and associated products. This pattern could continue after the passing of these devastating times and lead to a different outlook on purchasing value.

No coming back

The completive green space has seen the cannabis market boom, but the cannabis space has also seen many companies struggle to keep their head above water. Capital markets are going to take some time to recover, and many cannabis companies will not heal or survive. The United States does not look on cannabis as legal federally, and as such, companies needing help and support for the PPP and loan programs will not be eligible for such assistance.

Many of these businesses in need will eventually be bought up by competitors who are in healthier positions. The COVID-19 virus has had its effect on all businesses, including the cannabis space. Many individuals have also been touched in different ways. Some have surrendered to the virus with their life, and many cannabis businesses may also be doing the same thing as we move forward into 2020.

How COVID19 is altering recreational drug demand


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