Grow, Gift, Repair

Coronavirus blues

The latest drops underscore that the coronavirus pandemic has thrust the cannabis industry into uncharted waters, including the growing likelihood of a painful recession.

The slump has been particularly pronounced in Colorado. Sales over the past weekend (Friday, March 27-Sunday, March 29) were down 47% compared to the same weekend in 2019.

Lisa Gee, director of marketing and corporate social responsibility for Denver-based Lightshade, said several factors are behind Colorado’s slump in marijuana sales, including the fact that tourists who typically flock to the state for spring break didn’t show up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The entire tourism industry shut down,” she said. “The ski areas officially closed three weeks ago. This would have been spring break, so you’re removing an entire sector.”

She added that many Denver cannabis consumers briefly stocked up when Mayor Michael Hancock issued a stay-at-home order for the city on March 23 and deemed recreational marijuana businesses nonessential – a decision he reversed a couple of hours later after panicked customers lined up outside cannabis shops.

It’s also likely that people who were laid off are carefully choosing where they spend their money, Gee noted.

“A lot of our customers probably got laid off or they’re worried about their paychecks – or they’re just not spending money right now when their rent is due or their mortgages are due,” Gee said.

Last weekend’s sales were down 14% in Washington state from the same weekend in 2019, a less dramatic decline than what was seen in Colorado but a worrisome figure nonetheless.

“People are coming far less often,” said Anna Shreeve, managing partner of The Bakeréé, which operates two retail marijuana stores in Seattle.