These three US cannabis markets aren't benefiting from the coronavirus

Published Apr 21, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / chriss_ns

We’ve all been excited to hear about the new influx of orders for marijuana flower and concentrates. The news gives us a bit of a silver lining of hope that is difficult to find when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, and the future is so uncertain, but it’s something that cannabis industry professionals have held onto as they prepare to weather this storm and the recession that is nearly guaranteed to follow.

The label of essential business has allowed the majority of those who deal directly with the plant to maintain an open line to customers who are now buying larger quantities than they ever have before, which means that the money keeps on rolling in, and aside from a few tweaks to sanitation practices, sales can continue as usual.

A rush of panic buying not enough in some regions

Now that so many US states are operating under a state of emergency, the rules of the game have changed, and it has cannabis enthusiasts panicked. As a result of city-wide curfews and fear of too much human interaction, American consumers didn’t take long to start stocking up at their local weed shop, which led to the influx of sales that we touched on before, but many don’t realize that there are still many cannabis industry victims due to COVID-19.

The cost of shutting down tourism

The most heavily hit regions are world-famous tourist destinations, which include California, Washington, and Colorado. By now, the majority of the dispensaries in these areas are typically seeing sky-high sales levels, as tourists flock to sunny beaches, and warmer weather for march break, or to wait out the arrival of summer back home. Fast forward to today, and these same regions are reporting record lows, as streets are empty, and some weed shop owners are forced to close up shop for the foreseeable future.

Other important factors

Of course, tourism alone isn’t the only contributor to this mess as it all started with a brand-new, highly contagious virus that we still don’t quite fully understand, and the government's response to its arrival had brought forward a whole new reality for both business owners and consumers who have had to learn to navigate and adjust accordingly.

Financial and lawful limits


Normally, customers would visit their local weed shop once or twice a week, at least, to browse the selection and spread out the cost, but now they are trying to buy as much as they can while being restricted by maximum possession laws. This problem is believed to be a major driving factor in the abrupt drop in cannabis sales.

Forced closures

In the hardest-hit areas, it’s also become a common theme to deem cannabis dispensaries a non-essential service, which means that they have no choice but to close up shop or face hefty penalties, fines, and in some cases, even jail time as punishment. This has forced many customers to buy marijuana online, which is full of unlicensed sources, which means less of the money is making its way into the hands of the legal cannabis industry.

Less income

The biggest drop in sales hasn’t even completely hit yet, as thousands of citizens are out of work, and quickly running out of savings. Those that don’t have expendable cash are more likely to spend what they do have on necessities like food, and as a result, the local weed shop takes fewer orders, on a smaller scale than what they’d normally expect.

How we know this for sure

If you want to learn more about this extensive problem through graphs, charts, and helpful informational links, then you probably want to know where we got this idea in the first place, but it’s easy to track if you know where to start. The research used for the purposes of this article were all gathered and calculated by Headset, a data collection company that works closely with cannabis producers and researchers to bring us reliable and live coverage of the world outside in the safest way possible, as we hide away indoors.

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