Coronavirus has made its arrival to humanity, and it looks like it intends to stay here until 2021. The social, political, and economic effects of coronavirus are already being felt: the stock market has crashed, hospitals are reaching maximum capacities, and the travel industry is crumbling. Throughout all of these changes, we can’t help but wonder -- how will this affect cannabis?
It’s a valid question. Cannabis sales in all legal states have seen a large increase in sales due to the pandemic. Patrons want to ensure they have enough cannabis to calm their anxieties during this time of uncertainty while being quarantined in their homes. Delivery service companies have found their time to shine, working from open until close to ensure patients get their orders filled. According to Brightfield Group, 52% of cannabis consumers said they stocked up or planned to stock up on cannabis, only 28% said they wouldn’t. Even though the virus specifically attacks the respiratory system, only 7% of cannabis consumers said they were going to cut back on inhalable products.
The pandemic has the potential to also create job opportunities: more dispensaries need staff, growers need trimmers, and social media managers are necessary now more than ever for cannabis brands. “We are hiring because we are having to shift our business a bit,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, which is valued at $1 billion. “Now is a great time [to apply], particularly if you’re in a business that has seen layoffs.”
While some aspects of cannabis are thriving, others may have some trouble very soon. Cannabis tourism can expect a major hit for an unforeseen amount of time. Planet 13, a dispensary in Las Vegas relies solely on tourism for their profit and is already feeling the financial pain of the pandemic. Major events like Spannabis, Hall of Flowers, and High Times have postponed their events due to the virus. California, Washington state, and Colorado have some of the highest cases of coronavirus, which is where most of the cannabis industry resides
Cannabis has quickly gone from illegal to “essential” overnight -- for the time being. Cannabis seems to only be deemed “essential” for the sake of profiting companies, and we must question what happens with cannabis after the virus is gone. Will cannabis dispensaries, growers, and processors be seen as essential companies, ending the stigma and helping the push for legalization? Could it be that this boost of positive press isn’t motivated by profit and making the wealthy even richer? Time can only tell. We can only hope that the sudden need for constant access to cannabis shows the value it has in our society.
So, will the coronavirus help or hurt the cannabis industry? The honest answer: we don’t know. The knowledge we have about the virus itself is always changing, and the facts presented by the time this comes to print could easily be inaccurate. All that we can do is smoke a blunt and take everything day by day