The legal weed industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and businesses are being forced to adapt to rapidly-changing circumstances in order to remain solvent.
Although some states have decided to shut down adult-use weed stores entirely, several states have recognized that pot retailers, particuarly medical marijuana dispensaries, are “essential businesses," and are allowing them to stay open during the quarantine. Nonetheless, retailers have been forced to change their methods of doing business. Some states have imposed strict limitations on how employees can interact with customers, while others are forcing stores to sell via home delivery only.
The pandemic is also altering weed customers' buying habits, according to a new report by Marijuana Business Daily. Based on point-of-sale data collected by cannabis data firm Headset, sales of edibles surged rapidly last week, when state governors began announcing business closures and “shelter-in-place” orders. At the same time, sales of pre-rolled joints and concentrates saw sharp declines.
In California, the market share for edibles increased by 3.3 percent last week, compared to sales data collected from this January and February. Washington State saw a similar increase of 2.4 percent during that same week, and Colorado saw a more modest increase of 1.3 percent. Edibles now account for 17.7 percent of the total market for legal weed products in Colorado, 14.9 percent of California's market, and 11.6 percent of Washington's market.
The surge for edibles comes at the expense of pre-rolls and concentrates. The market share for pre-rolls decreased by 2.4 percent in California, 2.2 percent in Washington, and 2.1 percent in Colorado, compared to sales figures from earlier this year. Sales of concentrates like wax and shatter dipped by 2.3 percent in Washington and 0.9 percent in California, but have maintained their popularity in Colorado.
Government officials warn the public that smoking or vaping weed or nicotine can worsen or prolong the symptoms of coronavirus. Health experts also warn cannabis users to avoid sharing joints, bongs, vapes, or other smoking utilities with others to prevent the spread of the virus. Yet, despite these warnings, vapes and flower are holding their market share.
In each of these three adult-use states, flower continues to dominate the legal weed market. Flower sales account for 50.3 percent of Washington's adult-use market, 45.9 percent of Colorado's market, and 39.7 percent of California's. Sales figures indicate that the market share for flower actually increased in Colorado and Washington, but decreased in California.
Vapes are currently the second-most popular weed product in California, rising 2.1 percent to take 28 percent of the state's weed market share. Washington's vape sales saw a modest increase of 0.5 percent, but Colorado actually saw a decline in vape sales. Vapes are currently the third-most popular weed product in the Centennial State, with a 13.9 percent share of the market, down 1.8 percent from earlier this year.
These sales figures only account for the first week of coronavirus restrictions in the US, and as the situation continues to change rapidly, it is unclear whether these market trends will continue.