In what can best be described as a perfect example of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” the state of Arizona is reporting that their medicinal marijuana establishments like Urban greenhouse have sold an enormous amount (about 17,000 pounds) during the month of March, however, they are also reporting that a great deal of companies across the state have had to put many of their employees on temporary leave, with the hope that they will be able to come back full time after the pandemic is over. But so how can the coronavirus have both sparked Arizona’s marijuana sales to skyrocket (March was its most profitable month in its entire ten-year history) and also be such an extreme burden on the industry? Like many companies are seeing during these unprecedented times, there are two sides to the coin.
At a town hall meeting on 4/22, several head honchos within the Marijuana Industry Trade Association got together to discuss the varying levels of impact the coronavirus has brought to each. There seems to be quite a stark contrast between those that report a huge rise in sales since more tight orders were placed on Americans for their safety, and those that are reporting more detrimental effects due to a lack of staff to cater to patients. With many of those patients growing increasingly more discontented with delays in receiving their orders and having to wait longer than expected at dispensaries.
Because of the rule that marijuana patients must physically see a doctor in order to get their medical marijuana cards, many places are dealing with nervous customers who are fearful of leaving their house at all, let alone waiting on long lines with other individuals in their proximity. No matter how well the establishment has set up guidelines for safe social distancing, many customers are wary about visiting and shopping the menus of a Phoenix dispensary like Urban Greenhouse, and some of them have stopped altogether, having found alternate routes to obtain medicine.
And it’s not just customers that are the problem, many doctors and staff members have also left on their own volition, fearing for their health when they are exposed to other individuals who may possibly be infected. Some places have been able to curtail staff worries by adjusting company hours so that workers are not forced to be with others during their shifts, but it’s not something that every company is capable of doing.
Another issue that some companies are facing is the struggle to get their name and brand out to potential new customers. Without being able to have representatives visit dispensaries to show off and discuss new opportunities and products, many companies are finding themselves stalled with drumming up any new business. Additionally, many companies, especially those that supply always-evolving edibles, are unable to get their new products to launch properly because they are unable to hold any events or launches, which up until just this past March they had depended upon. And the employees whose main responsibility was this sort of marketing are either finding themselves working in different positions (if they are lucky), or have been let go entirely.
And the biggest and most common problem of all that these companies are currently facing? Well, it’s that marijuana legalization differs from state to state, and remains illegal federally. This means that all those loans and packages that the government is offering small businesses to help keep them and their employees going throughout this crisis are not open to marijuana companies.
To curtail the devastating outcome of these businesses being deemed as “essential” yet unable to apply for loans, a bill has been proposed by the House Democrats to make marijuana businesses able to receive the same funds that many other small businesses are able to do across the country right now.
As it seems with just about every company or even story that has come out during this devastating pandemic, there are usually two sides to every story, each with varying degrees of positivity and negativity.