As we previously discussed on our blog (here, here, and here), the cannabis industry, like most industries, is facing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, recreational marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts were not deemed to be essential businesses and were therefore required to close under the state’s emergency order. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri in 2020 were stymied. Further, companies holding recreational dispensary licenses in Illinois have reportedly encountered delays in building or opening new retail locations because of COVID-19.
Adult-use sales figures for April 2020 show a mixed bag. Washington set a monthly sales record of $106 million and California saw a year-over-year increase in April sales, although at a much lower growth rate compared to the increases in January, February, and March 2020. April’s recreational sales in Nevada (where dispensaries are open, but only for home delivery) and Colorado (where recreational dispensaries are only allowed to do curbside pickup), on the other hand, experienced double-digit declines compared to April 2019. While Illinois’s nascent market can only make month-over-month comparisons, sales increased slightly from March 2020 to April 2020.
It will be interesting to track these figures as the nation continues to adjust to not only stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements, but also the economic downturn the coronavirus has caused. Perhaps most importantly, will the marijuana industry ultimately prove to be “recession-proof”? It’s still unclear at this point, but some industry experts believe it will, analogizing it to alcohol sales during the country’s “Great Recession” from December 2007 to June 2009.
Please check our blog for continued updates on the cannabis industry, including developments related to the coronavirus. Also, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.