Since emerging in China late in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country in the world. The virus itself has killed hundreds of thousands and left millions more seriously ill. However, the damage it has caused doesn’t stop there.
Businesses and economies have been brought to a standstill due to distancing restrictions. While many areas are beginning to recover, many more will not survive this blow.
Read on as we look at seven different ways in which the cannabis industry has changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Demand for Cannabis
Demand for cannabis has remained steady for a long time. Even before the pressure on governments to legalize cannabis started to succeed, the rates of the use were high.
Far from decreasing demand for cannabis, the pandemic appears to have increased use among both medical and recreational customers.
Cannabis for Medical Use
Cannabis has now become a mainstream treatment for many ailments and they have not gone away due to COVID-19. Indeed, in many cases, they may be worse than ever.
Spending days or weeks on end locked inside can be disastrous for mental health. Therefore, those who use medical cannabis to deal with their anxiety or depression may find themselves in greater need of it than ever.
The lack of outside stimulation might also worsen the symptoms of insomnia, another common condition that patients use cannabis to treat.
With extra time on their hands, some of these patients might have turned to growing their own weed. Certain cannabis seeds help with insomnia and reduce stress, and the process of planting and harvesting can be therapeutic in itself which you can buy from a trusted source.
While planting is a great option, however, most people would have continued buying their weed from their local dispensary.
Cannabis for Recreational Use
Demand for recreational cannabis has also climbed during the lockdown. Many smokers don’t have their usual routine to keep busy, so more are turning to hybrid weed to keep boredom at bay. Some are also going for gas mask bong to enhance their smoking experience.
As with medical patients, most of these cannabis users resorted to their local dispensary to meet their demand. This news report tells us that there was a 40 percent increase in demand in some dispensaries around the time of the 4:20 holiday this year compared to 2019.
2. Supply of Cannabis
COVID-19 has interrupted supply chains in many different industries, and the cannabis business is no different. Movement restrictions and physical distancing requirements have made many tasks in the cannabis industry more difficult to carry out.
However, supply has generally not been too great of an issue. Cannabis makes its way across the U.S. in the same way as most other goods; by plane and truck. As travel restrictions apply mainly to human travelers, rather than consumer goods, this part of the cannabis supply chain was left more or less as normal.
3. Planting and Harvesting
Planting and harvesting methods vary from one growing operation to the next. However, many growers normally have a system in place that involves close physical cooperation between two or more employees.
Growers have therefore had to develop operational frameworks that do not require workers to inhabit the same spaces too frequently. Many cannabis farm employees have also begun wearing masks, gloves, and other protective equipment.
While these measures will surely have slowed productivity in some respects, they have not led to a major shortfall in supply.
As social distancing requirements ease and rates of infection lessen, it should become easier for growers to resume more normal operations.
4. Cannabis Stores & Dispensaries
As the laws on cannabis vary from state to state, so do the laws on businesses opening during COVID-19. Many cannabis dispensaries would have had to cease trading for weeks during the height of lockdown measures. In some states, doors remain closed.
Where marijuana dispensaries have the status of healthcare providers, the rules are more forgiving. Many U.S. states class cannabis as an essential good at the outset of the pandemic, which meant that they were able to stay open while other stores shut their doors.
One positive aspect of the pandemic for some cannabis retailers is the opportunity it has created for them to move into the online space. Many of those who were unable to sell through physical stores started taking online orders and delivering to customers’ homes.
While teething problems (both practical and regulatory) are likely, this is a positive trend that could revolutionize the cannabis industry for years to come.
One major issue that has become apparent in the cannabis industry since the onset of the virus is a loss of investment.
As economies have struggled, investors have had less money to put into cannabis ventures. This has left many marijuana start-ups struggling to fund their operations.
As their lines of credit run dry, many marijuana firms may find themselves unable to meet operational costs. Such firms may come dangerously close to business failure in the coming months.
6. Use of Cannabis
For cannabis enthusiasts who prefer to smoke up alone, the COVID-19 pandemic did not present much difficulty (in fact, it may have made it easier for many!). However, those who like to get together in a group and smoke will have been unable to do so in many parts of the country.
Along with movement restrictions and social distancing guidelines, there was also an increased police presence in many areas. This would have made it more difficult for groups to get away with smoking in public areas in states where cannabis remains illegal.
As movement restrictions begin to ease, social stoners should soon be able to enjoy each other’s company once more.
7. Cannabis Legislation
This is an area in which a lapse in progress might be less obvious. However, the truth is that legislative bodies have a lot to deal with at the moment. Many don’t have the resources to push on with cannabis regulations.
Before the pandemic reared its head, 2020 looked like it would be a great year for cannabis regulations. Many U.S. states had expressed intentions to initiate drug policy reforms this year. However, states like Missouri and Nebraska have now postponed efforts to loosen cannabis rules until at least 2021.
A major issue here is the gathering of signatures. When lawmakers attempt to pass a motion, they must gather signatures from members of the public, a practice that the virus has rendered impossible.
Despite some attempts to carry this out electronically, it has been a major impediment to the passing of new legislative measures.
Remaining Strong in the Face of the Challenges Ahead
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to anyone. The cannabis industry has faced considerable challenges already, and is likely to continue facing them in the coming months.
However, the future of cannabis is bright. With regulations loosening across the U.S. and around the world, there has never been a better time to be a cannabis enthusiast.
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