Cannabis After Coronavirus: What Will Be The Long Term Impact?

The 2010s were a big win for Cannabis. Many states legalized the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. Scientists, since then, continue to do rigorous research into the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of this plant medicine. People had already embraced the use of marijuana, and when the terrifying COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to stay at home, there was a dramatic increase in its consumption.

According to researchers, the quarantine measures and unexpected lockdowns compelled many partygoers and loners alike to consume weed to combat the boredom, loneliness, stress, and anxiety. Moreover, the increased use of Cannabis is relatively possible because of how weed is acquired- dispensaries where smokers can buy weed online and have it delivered to their destination.

This sudden increase was also in part because the provincial and territorial governments in Canada declared cannabis stores as essential businesses. This meant they would continue to offer pickup and delivery services during the lockdown. Physical/local dispensaries, on the other hand, adhered to the guidelines of reducing customer interactions in the stores, physical distancing measures, increased sanitation, and reduced work hours.

Cannabis businesses seemingly thrived throughout the Coronavirus stressful period, but what are the long-term impacts of the pandemic, and what is the future of weed after Coronavirus?

The Longterm Impact Of The Pandemic On Cannabis

In one way, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, weed was in higher demand more than ever before. But, unfortunately, the economic pendulum wasn’t swaying in the positive direction. It”s pretty apparent that this sudden outbreak caused a lot of stress, anxiety, and boredom to the working class stuck at home.

Meanwhile, guess which plant had been poised as the miracle healer that can alleviate stress and anxiety? So, the drastic increase in weed consumption didn’t come as a surprise at all. But, interestingly, the demand for edibles swiftly shot up higher while that of flower and vapes remained flat.

COVID-19 being a respiratory disease, doctors and health practitioners strongly advised smokers against the habit. Smoking flower and e-cigarettes could end up drawing a smoker an inch or two closer to lung and airway damage, meaning more vulnerability of contracting the disease. Hence, people avoided smokables and vaporizers.

So, will the Canadian cannabis industry continue thriving after Coronavirus? Yes, it appears so. Here’s why.

An Essential Business

When the state and the local government declared cannabis stores an essential business, the industry instantly surged to greater heights. Shutting down most of the other sectors (not considered as ‘essential’), and leaving cannabis stores to continue running, somehow prompted groundbreaking sales and unparalleled support and recognition for their contribution towards combating the spread of Coronavirus.

Although running under severe restrictions to fight the pandemic, marijuana stores continued to operate along with pharmacies. That’s not all. This move went by leaps and bounds to debunk the myths and widely held beliefs against Cannabis. Generally, this support by the government has given weed its moment, and Canadians are looking forward to even better days.

Dramatic Increase in Sales

Since the legalization of recreational and medicinal use of Cannabis, the industry has seen an increasingly growing demand for its products. This can be well explained by the numerous near-magical benefits that weed offers. The ‘essential’ classification drove new customers into the industry. The number of people seeking to buy cheap weed online increased significantly, and the number of new customers visiting local stores as well.

In Canada, for instance, cannabis sales spiked by 19% in March of 2018. The number of consumers flocking dispensaries was overwhelming, and this sale was the most significant monthly rise seen since the decriminalization of pot. It is expected that the cannabis industry will continue booming even long after the pandemic!

The Cash Issue

The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned against cash and advised people to avoid using solid money. Instead, people are encouraged to use other options that don’t involve handling cash to help curb the spread of Coronavirus.

However, while other businesses have quickly adopted the cashless payment method, the weed industry faces a big challenge with this new system. The main reason being that banks and credit card payment processors don’t identify weed as an acceptable product. In fact, the federal law prohibits banks and credit unions from accepting marijuana money.

This becomes a challenge for the industry and makes it more prone to fraudsters and swindlers. Besides, handling cash presents a potential danger of spreading COVID-19. As surprising as it is, Cannabis is recognized as an essential business yet cannot operate as a regular industry. Whether this situation will be rectified depends on the Senate taking up the ‘Safe Banking Act Bill’ and eventually being signed by the president into law. All we can do is wait and hope for the best.

The Future

The cannabis industry has seen a significant increase in demand for products and new customers, thanks to the pandemic. Unlike smoking and vaping, edibles have taken the lead, and their demand is going through the roof. Additionally, people are buying weed online to make edibles at home to alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression. However, we expect the demand for smokeable and vaporizers to catch up soon as the pandemic ends.

Zoey Roy

I’m Zoey Roy, a Cannabis Compliance Specialist and Cannabis Activist. I am experienced in guiding individuals and businesses through complex cannabis regulations. With a Bachelor’s degree in Research from McGill University, I’ve worked at Neptune Wellness for 4 years as a senior researcher. Now I serve as a Cannabis Industry Analyst at Tilray Brands, Inc. I provide essential support in ensuring compliance, educating clients, and facilitating legal requirements. My expertise extends to marketing and laboratory skills, making me a well-rounded professional in the field.