Throughout the state of California, as the novel coronavirus pandemic began to spread, residents anticipating closures and prolonged “stay at home” orders flocked to cannabis dispensaries to stock up on products. Massive amounts of customer and patient traffic led to record setting levels of marijuana sales in the state earlier in the month. However, as Safer at Home orders such as the one implemented in Los Angeles County become further extended, decreasing incomes and going into ‘conservation mode’ have caused cannabis sales to swiftly decline, days after reaching new highs.
According to MJ Biz Daily, on March 2, sales of recreational marijuana in California, Colorado and Washington state were all up over the same time period in the previous year, ranging from just an 8% increase in Colorado to a much more significant 88% in California. By March 9, sales in all three states had skyrocketed, with year-over-year sales jumps of 46% in Colorado, 100% in Washington state and 159% in California.
Be that as it may, by March 21, sales fell in California, landing at just a 23% year-over-year increase. In Colorado and Washington state, sales dipped below those from the previous year.
“We noticed an increase in sales beginning on March 2, both in the number of transactions per day and dollars per order. Sales continued to steadily increase until March 19. We noticed a huge surge on Thursday, March 19, right after L.A. announced its Safer At Home directive. That day was our busiest sales day ever,” says Lauren Fontein, co-founder of West Hollywood cannabis shop the Artist Tree.
“In our busiest week, sales were up about 40 percent from pre-coronavirus levels. Starting on March 20, sales have been down about 45 percent from that peak–so lower than our average sales before coronavirus.”
The Artist Tree has joined a growing number of dispensary and cannabis companies in launching delivery and express takeout methods in order to adapt to the decrease in business and make their products more accessible. Jane, an online cannabis retailer marketplace, reported a delivery sales increase of 116% since January.
When one of Jane’s retailers reached out to request the set up of a curbside takeout purchase option, not dissimilar to ones that many restaurants use, Jane built the technology and made it available the next day.
“Adding curbside pickup as a fourth retail module was an unforeseen, but a natural extension of our existing offering–and we were able to transition seamlessly, nearly overnight, for thousands of dispensaries across the country,” says Jane CEO Socrates Rosenfeld.
Food delivery services such as GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates have enacted “contactless” drop-offs, in which drivers and customers do not have to interact face to face. But under California law, a driver is required to deliver a customer’s purchase by hand, verify their age and collect payment. Last week, cannabis activist group The Marijuana Policy Project sent a letter to governors across the country, including California’s Gavin Newsom, urging them to permit contactless cannabis deliveries for medical marijuana patients at the least.
“As governments around the world respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MPP and other organizations and advocates are advocating for improved, safe access to cannabis in states with medical cannabis and legalization programs. It is crucial that cannabis remain available as dispensaries and regulators take steps to minimize the risk of spreading of the virus,” says the organization.
“You can sign our petition for safe access in times of coronavirus here.”