The coronavirus has changed the way Americans live in many ways. In terms of cannabis, the pandemic has not only verified the importance of cannabis to consumers’ day-to-day lives but also influenced the way people buy and use cannabis products.
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, many in the United States have been ordered to stay at home. As of March 31, 2020, the U.S. had the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world with 160,000.
In response to the safety protocol demanding people to sit and wait it out, many reacted by stocking up on essentials. For a large percentage of Americans, “essential” items include cannabis.
Let’s take a look at how the coronavirus has impacted the ways consumers purchase and use cannabis.
The Importance of Cannabis During the Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic caused a panic among many consumers, sending people to the stores to stock up on toiletries, food, and other essential items. A new study from AmericaMarijuana.org reveals that for many Americans, cannabis is just as much, or even more, valuable than other basic needs.
Just how much do Americans cherish cannabis?
When asked how basic needs are compared to the importance of marijuana, the vast majority of the nearly 1,000 U.S. marijuana consumers said they prefer food, face masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper.
However, 28 percent of the survey participants stated they value cannabis above face masks and 5 percent said they value cannabis more than food during these unprecedented times.
The study revealed nearly half of American marijuana consumers, 49 percent, chose to stock up on cannabis. The reasons behind why they chose to purchase extra cannabis included:
- “To calm themselves during the coronavirus outbreak” (55%)
- They “just wanted to stock up on some marijuana to chill at home”(22%), and
- “Because of the fear of both the pandemic and marijuana product shortage” (23%)
The idea of stocking up on cannabis is a trend that quickly spread through legal cannabis states. According to a Politico report, cannabis sales during coronavirus in some states jumped by 20 percent and nearly all of the states with legal medical or recreational markets have classified marijuana businesses as an essential service, allowing the stores to remain open.
After two major cannabis cities San Francisco and Denver initially announced plans to shut down dispensaries, city leaders immediately backtracked after a public uproar. A new poll from YouGov shows that 53 percent of Americans believe medical marijuana dispensaries should be considered essential services and allowed to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.
Who is Stockpiling Cannabis During Coronavirus
New Frontier Data found that medical marijuana patients were more likely to have stockpiled products in the past two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic than were recreational marijuana consumers.
The new report from New Frontier Data about purchasing practices shows that among those who did stockpile cannabis in response to coronavirus, more than one-third (35%) of consumers purchased from brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensaries, with slightly fewer relying on private dealers (31%) or friends and family (30%).
The report found that 16 percent of consumers used delivery services, a service that is surging among consumers in self-quarantine.
Top Cannabis Products Amid Coronavirus
According to findings from New Frontier Data, cannabis consumers are still electing for their favorite types of products.
Among types of cannabis products purchased, marijuana flower has long been the most popular product form, and it remains so among stockpiling consumers. Sixty-two percent of those stocking up on cannabis bought flower, according to the report.
The second choice for cannabis consumption is marijuana edibles (29%), followed by opting for vape cartridges (22%), which pair with vaporizer batteries and allow for the quick inhalation of cannabis.
A sizeable portion of consumers, (26%) also reported stocking up on cannabis paraphernalia, including rolling papers and lighters.
How Cannabis Consumers are Responding to Self-Quarantine
The AmericanMarijuana.org survey shows that as cannabis consumers are finding more time on their hands some are consuming more cannabis or choosing cannabis over other social distancing activities.
Of the survey’s participants, 34 percent said they have consumed more cannabis products since the coronavirus outbreak, while the remaining 66 percent have maintained the same rate of consumption or less.
In the latest New Frontier Data report, “among medical cannabis consumers, 39% reported consuming more often whereas 21% had decreased their usage. Among recreational consumers, 23% reported an increase compared to 19% seeing a decrease in their cannabis use.”
For respondents who reported an increase in cannabis consumption, stress and anxiety stemming from the coronavirus pandemic were often cited as core motivations.
When participants in the AmericanMarijuana.org survey were asked what activities would they rather participate in during a nationwide quarantine, 17 percent said they would just rather smoke marijuana during self-quarantine than doing any of the presented activities, making consuming cannabis the third-favored activity in the poll.
The largest portion of participants said they would rather binge watch TV shows (28%), followed by doing hobbies (26%). Using cannabis ranked higher than the percentages of those choosing to surf the internet (15%), and to do indoor exercise/sports (13%).
One factor the survey did not report on was the percentage of respondents combining the activities with cannabis consumption. Some respondents from the New Frontier Data survey reported consuming cannabis while connecting with friends via social apps or phone calls.
How Cannabis Businesses are Responding to the Coronavirus
According to Politico, a staggering 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. While some Americans have become unemployed temporarily or laid off due to the coronavirus, many cannabis businesses are hiring.
As cannabis dispensaries and online businesses are finding new ways to deliver cannabis safely to consumers in the pandemic, they are also facing staff shortages. Some cannabis dispensaries have seen up to a 15 percent increase in workforce hiring.
Among those new cannabis workforce demands are delivery drivers. Eaze, a California cannabis delivery service saw a 34 percent increase in the number of customers signing up for its service as well as a surge in the size of orders.
Also in California, Driven Deliveries has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in transactions and a 10 percent rise in order value since coronavirus was discovered in the state, CEO Christian Schenk told Marijuana Business Daily.
“We have had an increase in first-time customers of 6% this week alone, which is almost double our normal new customer performance,” Schenk said.
Harborside, an Oakland, California-based cannabis retailer, has plans to add two more vehicles to its fleet to keep up with the demand for cannabis delivery. The store also plans to hire up to three new delivery drivers and shift some workers from its sales staff into that role.
Industry leaders have also offered considerations and safety tips for using cannabis amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More on Marijuana
Follow along with us as we track the latest developments in cannabis during the coronavirus pandemic by visiting our cannabis news page.
We’ve examined the impact the coronavirus could play on marijuana legalization efforts and on the cannabis industry as a whole.
Catch up on cannabis trends and news by reading the top cannabis industry stories for the week of March 23-27.