The cannabis industry and COVID-19

With the massive, worldwide repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic now beginning to be truly felt. One industry that has performed better than expected in these uncertain times is the cannabis industry.

Like virtually all companies trading on the stock market, cannabis companies (either grower of marijuana for medicinal purposes or for recreational depending on local legislation), took a massive hit in the recent downturn due to COVID-19.

Share value plummeted and there was concern that due to the climate need and desire for marijuana may be decreasing and this would then have a significant detrimental impact on the industry as a whole.

Surprisingly though, of all of the sectors, it would appear that the cannabis industry has begun to make some positive gains recently and this coupled with some interesting feedback from consumers, may mean that the situation may not be as dire as first thought.

From a consumer perspective, several recent surveys have provided immensely positive feedback for the industry.

The majority of cannabis users (both those who use it medicinally and those who use it recreationally) said that the COVID-19 outbreak would have no effect on their desire to buy and consume cannabis.

Indeed, following on from this, many dispensaries have seen a recent upturn in mass sales, suggesting that consumers are bulk buying so that they can still use cannabis even in the event of quarantine or lockdown as we have seen in many countries. For example, many people are stocking up on their favourite cannabis gummies to get them through any isolation periods they need to sit through.

To highlight this, there have been several reports from throughout Europe and in parts of North America, that consumers have been buying significant amounts, leading in several places to reports of record-breaking sales.

Local governments in places like Illinois, the Netherlands and in Quebec have insisted that they will keep cannabis stores open despite any lockdown, as these dispensaries provide a very real and tangible medical need to people who suffer from chronic pain.

To overcome the obvious logistical difficulties of any lockdown or quarantine restrictions many individual retailers have started running a delivery service so that they can still provide this legitimate medical service to their customers.

Users of medical marijuana are most likely to maintain their usage through the current crisis of course and many dispensaries and health providers have moved quickly to ensure any prescription will still be able to be filled for the next three to six months.

One worry that persists for the industry though is that of the logistics of actually being able to grow and transport their product to retailers.

As the crisis grows and quickly develops it creates incredible uncertainty around the ability of the industry to function in the event of a gap in its supply chain or a breakdown of transportation.

Although this is of course a tumultuous time for both the markets and the cannabis industry as a whole, to get around these logistical issues and still ensure a plentiful supply of cannabis for customers this crisis may in fact be a time of positive change and innovation within the industry and society.

One positive of the situation, as mentioned above, is the newly minted delivery services many cannabis providers are now trialing. Now whilst this may be an emergency measure implemented to combat the government enforced quarantine legislation, it could also be a significant new revenue stream when the crisis eventually abates.

In addition to such innovations, depending on the length of time of the Coronavirus outbreak, the cannabis industry may notice and have to adapt to a shift in their primary consumer’s behaviour.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that in the event of cannabis consumption being detrimentally affected by logistical issues many consumers will decide that they may as well as grow it themselves (all be it in addition to their usual supply).

This again creates another fantastic opportunity for the industry to corner the market on home growing equipment and encouraging this self-reliance will inevitably lead the industry to become more widely trusted.

There are many reasons to be encouraged by the cannabis industry’s current situation and its ability to adapt and grow during this crisis.

Many industry experts have noted that in times of economic downturn and increased unemployment, cannabis consumption actually increases.

In summary whilst these may be uncertain times, the cannabis industry with its adaptable sales model, its consumer base with an underlying medical need that has to be fulfilled and a potential change in customer purchasing behaviour is one of the industries that may come out of this COVID-19 pandemic in a better situation than it went in.

By Greg Slatterly a home grower enthusiast and business blogger