After being deemed essential in many states, cannabis dispensaries are being forced to innovate to get customers their weed during Covid-19.
When lockdown orders first began to sweep the country in late March hordes of panic-buyers rushed to dispensaries to stock up on Kush in preparation for isolation and store closures. After the initial frenzy many state officials came out and assured concerned cannoisseur’s that cannabis dispensaries would be deemed essential businesses right alongside pharmacies and grocery stores.
While some states like Massachusetts reserved the essential business tag for Medical Marijuana only, other states like Colorado and California ensured recreational users could also get their weed. This is when the hard work started for Dispensaries. Retailers had to adapt quickly to implement safe shopping options to deal with Covid-19 related safety concerns. For Illinois cannabis retailers like Sunnyside Dispensary and Windy City Cannabis this meant updating websites to ensure menus were displaying the most up to date inventory options. It also meant implementing pre-order and pickup protocols including pre-selected pick-up times to manage crowds.
Cannabis dispensaries are preparing for long-term changes in consumer’s shopping and purchasing behavior. As more efficient ways of purchasing pot are developed as a response to Covid-19, owners expect these new systems to inform their customers habits beyond the pandemic. Some retailers are also seeing shifts in their customers’ product preferences. The start of 2020 saw Los Angeles-based delivery company, Emjay, report a significant increase in sales, particularly a shift to edibles and away from vapes.
Cannabis businesses must stay lean and attentive to their consumers during these times of uncertainty. Despite being deemed essential, marijuana companies are not eligible to receive bailout money under the CARES Act due to Cannabis’ status as federally illegal. This means that Weed companies will be on their own when it comes to paying for things like salaries, paid sick/medical leave, and rent and utilities.
As restrictions begin to ease around the country many are looking to the future of the cannabis industry and what this could mean for federal decriminalization or legalization. Not all politicians agree with legalizing adult-use marijuana, like Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R), who recently slammed the idea of legalization in the state. However, many see Cannabis legalization as a major policy issue in the 2020 election. With more and more Americans favoring legalization in the US, it may prove to be a critical swing issue for Biden.