June 25, 2020 4 min read
During the stay-at-home order, Americans have been eating more junk food, drinking more alcohol, playing more video games, and smoking more pot. The rise in these activities is probably due to a feeling of comfort and an increase in free time, however smoking bud also has the added benefit of reducing coronavirus induced anxiety and stress. But long gone are the days of hanging out with large groups of friends and sharing joints and pipes. Beyond the changes in the social use of pot, let’s find out how the pandemic affected the marijuana industry and what the future holds.
In the coming months, stoners may have less disposable income to spend on marijuana, deciding to either consume less or turn to more affordable black market pot. Consumers are spending less in general and recreational pot has also felt the impact, but the marijuana sector didn’t crash nearly as bad as the tourism, dining, and retail clothing industries. This leaves the door open for affordable brands and cultivators to thrive. No access to federal funds is also a big setback for the marijuana industry meaning there will be more small businesses that have to close down, particularly in areas that rely on cannabis tourism like Las Vegas. It seems like it will be a continuous uphill battle for a while. However, once the economy opens back up, travel resumes, and more people go back to work, it is likely that sales will increase and the industry will recover the small decline. New research related to cannabis and coronavirus could also help boost the industry and possibly even convince legislatures to legitimize cannabis on a wider scale.
You may have seen the news headlines that claim cannabis is the miracle treatment we’ve been searching for, while this may not be true, there is a glimmer of hope. With coronavirus cases surpassing 9.6 million worldwide as of June 25th, we are in desperate need of a vaccine or preventative treatment to stabilize infections and reopen the global economy. As cannabis is known to provide a variety of medicinal properties, scientific researchers from Canada, the U.K., and other countries are investigating how the plant affects the coronavirus in humans. One highly publicized study from the University of Lethbridge in Canada found that a few cannabis strains that are high in CBD and low in THC could potentially help patients who contract the severe version of COVID-19. Cannabidiol was found to block protein pathways that help the virus spread, giving patients a better chance at survival and possibly lowering infection rates by up to 70%. Take this information with a grain of salt, because this study is still being peer-reviewed and additional research to back up these claims are necessary. However, if cannabis treatment for COVID-19 were to be found successful, that would mean a huge surge in the production of hemp derived CBD and a boom for the medical marijuana industry.
During the initial stages of the pandemic, many people believed that dispensaries would be forced to close just like barber shops, movie theaters, and their go-to Italian restaurant. However most legal states soon announced that marijuana would be included as an essential business just like grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, and hospitals. But that didn’t stop stoners and medical patients from getting scared of being stuck in quarantine without a stash of bud. As smokers stocked up, one dispensary in Denver saw a 392% increase in sales compared to a typical day before the pandemic. This spike in marijuana sales has already tapered off after the hoarding fever subsided and may even see a decline in the coming months. It’s possible that since more people continue to file for unemployment, they are only able to spend money on basic needs and essentials like food and rent and marijuana sales will continue to slow.
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