On Tuesday, Oregon’s cannabis regulators reported that the state sold a record-breaking $84.5 million worth of weed in March as residents stocked up to prepare for government-ordered self-quarantines.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees the Beaver State’s legal cannabis industry, announced that pot shops sold more weed last month than in the same month the previous year. In March 2019, Oregon sold $61.2 million worth of weed.
“It appears to be ‘stocking up’ type of activity because the next two weeks returned to slightly below their early March sales levels,” Matt VanSickle, a spokesperson with the Liquor Control Commission, told the local CBS affiliate KOIN 6. The largest uptick in March marijuana sales took place the same week the state began its coronavirus lockdown. And that worked out, since state operators also grew a record amount of weed at the end of 2019.
On March 23 Governor Kate Brown issued a stay-at-home order for the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. By law, Oregonians can only leave their homes for emergency doctor visits, or if they work in a crucial field. They can also leave home to purchase “essential” or “critical” items like food, medicine — or marijuana. Failure to comply with the stay-at-home order can result in being charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
The governor’s stay-at-home order has no specified end date. It ends whenever the governor decides to lift it.
VanSickle noted that it wasn’t just weed that Oregonians bought up in anticipation of a state-ordered quarantine. Alcohol sales were also 17 percent higher in March 2020, compared to March 2019, KOIN 6 reported.
How states with legal weed have fared during the COVID-19 pandemic varies state by state. For instance, California’s weed sales are higher than average over the past few weeks. However, other states such as Washington and Colorado are seeing lower-than-average weed sales during the same period, possibly because these two state’s weed industries depend heavily on tourists, who are no longer traveling while everyone stays home across the country.
Some cannabis companies may declare bankruptcy amid the coronavirus outbreak, though whether the pandemic's economic effects are solely to blame, or if it simply aggravated long-standing problems with dismal sales and mismanagement, have yet to be determined.