The pandemic obliterated many brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants and salons, which required in-store visits and weren’t easy to adapt to e-commerce.
On the other hand, the cannabis industry fared well as it was already well-positioned for a digital shopping experience. The industry and state governments found creative solutions that allowed people to purchase cannabis, which has firmly planted itself as an essential medicine used by millions.
Here in Colorado, there were near-riots during the first weeks of the pandemic when dispensaries were shuttered. States quickly realized that dispensaries are essential, and more medicine than vice, and did a great job of establishing curbside pickup, delivery, and other socially-distant means of purchasing. Cannabis consumers also adjusted their purchasing patterns.
The average amount a consumer purchases at one time – or the average basket size – has increased in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington state, while at the same time, the number of shopping trips, or baskets, per week have declined. A Strong, New Revenue Source State coffers have been particularly hard-hit by the recession as spending shrunk, travel dwindled, and jobs were lost. In these bleak times, cannabis emerged as a dependable revenue stream in many states. In 2019, the excise and state tax revenues from medical and recreational marijuana sales of the eight states that offered legal cannabis sales (California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Michigan) combined to over $1.9 billion.
New York State alone could earn over $1b per year in new revenues if recreational cannabis were legalized there. These are real dollars that could contribute to state coffers nationwide, and the infrastructure to help make that happen has already begun in those early-adoption states.