Marijuana

Ask a Stoner: COVID-19's Economic Impact on Weed

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Westword
Dear Stoner: How do you see dispensaries being economically affected by coronavirus?
Daryl

Dear Daryl: Early on, all that coronavirus brought dispensaries was a sales boom. As fears spread of impending closures after a statewide stay-at-home order, cannabis users began stocking up, with dispensaries reporting record sales for mid-March. Those peaked in Denver on March 23, when Mayor Michael Hancock issued an executive order that called for recreational (not medical) stores to close for over two weeks to limit in-person interaction. Although he reversed that decision the same day, dispensaries reported a whopping 390 percent increase in sales over an average Monday in 2020, according to dispensary sales tracker Flowhub.

click to enlarge The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24. - THOMAS MITCHELL
The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24.
Thomas Mitchell
But then everyone was stocked, and all recreational sales were confined to pickup transactions under a statewide public-health order. Sales numbers started to drop, with daily pot transactions in Colorado on March 25 down 27 percent from an average Wednesday before coronavirus-related social-distancing orders hit the state. However, the curbside order was reversed Monday, March 30, reopening recreational dispensaries to customers.

Statewide orders to stay at home through April probably won't help the industry, but if cannabis is really like alcohol or tobacco, it could be recession-proof — and with 4/20 right around the corner, dispensaries will likely see another short-term sales boost.


As with just about any industry during hard economic times, though, there will be a trickle-down effect that reaches cannabis. And unlike most industries, legal pot isn't eligible for any federal bailouts or small business loans, because of the plant's federal prohibition.

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