Marijuana sales may have been immune to the coronavirus pandemic, but headlines this year certainly weren't. Looking back at our most popular stories of 2020, we found breaking news pieces about public-health orders and dispensary closures, reports of federal stimulus checks spurring weed sales, and budtender observations about their jobs during COVOD-19 concerns.
There was marijuana news outside of the pandemic, though, and readers took notice. Tales of pot shop history and scoops about new brands also stirred interest this year, as did business stories announcing large takeovers of well-known dispensary chains.
Here are Westword's ten most-read marijuana stories of 2020:
As part of a citywide stay-at-home order to limit the spread of coronavirus during the early days of the pandemic, on March 23 Mayor Michael Hancock's administration announced that recreational marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores would be among the businesses that must close that day, and remain closed for over two weeks, in order to discourage large gatherings of people. So what did the people do immediately after the announcement? Gather in large groups to get marijuana and liquor. The city's interpretation of Hancock's original executive order deemed that liquor stores and recreational pot shops weren't essential, but they seemed pretty essential to panicking customers. Hancock clarified his order within hours, and dispensaries and liquor stores are both now considered essential businesses.
The legal marijuana industry may be new to most of the country, but it's already old enough in Denver for us to look back on the early days. And as the industry matures, some familiar names from those days have disappeared. For a quick walk down marijuana memory lane, we listed eight dispensary chains that once looked destined for expansion, only to be consumed by deep pockets, poor planning or criminal behavior.
Denver's mayor wasn't the only elected official who quickly backtracked on marijuana rules during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order that recreational dispensaries across the state would have to close for in-person sales for two weeks and convert to curbside operations only. Polis reversed the decision days later, though, and allowed recreational pot shops to remain open for in-person shopping.
Self-quarantines and sitting at home because of coronavirus concerns will lead many of us to break out the bong, but our resident Stoner advised marijuana users to keep those smoking utensils to themselves (mouthpieces are natural resting places for germs, and can still carry them even after being wiped down with alcohol). However, a reader comment on this issue generated the most buzz; according to one commenter, a registered nurse, pot smokers can be at even higher risk for COVID-19.