The Impact of Coronavirus on Cannabis


The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on virtually every aspect American life as federal and state officials take extraordinary measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Schools and universities across the country are closed, major employers have implemented work from home policies, and large-scale events have been canceled or postponed. 

Restaurants and bars have been forced to cease on-site consumption, Nevada casinos have been ordered to close for 30 days, and several sports leagues have suspended play. 

San Francisco Bay Area residents have been ordered to shelter in place and other major cities are considering similar lockdowns. 

At the same time, borders have been shut, travel has been restricted and airlines are asking for a $50 billion bailout while main street businesses continue to perform triage and take drastic measures to keep the lights on.

Millions of Americans have already been laid off or had their hours reduced, and nearly 80 million U.S. jobs are at moderate or high risk according to Moody’s Analytics, CNN Reports.  

And all of this is happening as hospitals prepare to be overrun with an onslaught of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Needless to say, confidence is waning especially as the world braces for an impending economic recession. 

So how has the cannabis industry been affected by the unprecedented measures being taken to combat the coronavirus across the globe?

Pot Stocks are Getting Punished

Publicly traded marijuana firms were already reeling, but the coronavirus pandemic has sent stocks plunging over the last 30 days.

Several cannabis companies -- including Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB), Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC), MedMen Enterprises (OTCMKTS: MMNFF), Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY), and Vireo Health International (OTCMKTS: VREOF), among others -- have seen accelerated declines over the last month.

Here’s a snapshot of trends since February 18, 2020.

  • ACB is down 90%
  • CGC is down 79%
  • MMNFF is down 96.8%
  • TLRY is down 149%
  • VREOF is down 127%

Cannabis Users Stock Up

There have been multiple reports of shoppers flocking to dispensaries to purchase larger quantities of marijuana than usual as they prepare to self-isolate in the days and weeks ahead.

In a conversation with THCnet, Ted Whitney, the vice president of operations at Alameda, California-based NUG Inc., said sales spiked earlier this week as Bay Area residents rushed to buy everything from flower to edibles ahead of the shelter in place mandate.

“Our shops were completely cleaned out,” he said. “We were up over 100% versus what a normal day would look like.”

It was a similar story in Brookline, Massachusetts, where New England Treatment Access (NETA) halt walk-in business and restrict purchases to medical patients only.

Looking ahead, Whitney believes the legal cannabis sector has an opportunity to introduce canna-curious consumers to the "beneficial nature” of marijuana. 

“This is a moment for us to crystalize our messaging that cannabis is an outstanding medication, and can reduce stress and anxiety with very little side effects,” he said.

Several Events Put on Hold

Last week, THCnet outlined some of the major cannabis events that were canceled or postponed amid growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  

In the days since, several other event producers have called off or rescheduled conferences and trade shows for later this year. 

The upcoming CWCB Expo, which was scheduled to take place in New York in May, has been pushed to October 1-3, the organizers announced today.

That news comes after major events like SXSW (which had a cannabusiness tack), Hall of Flowers, CannaTech and NECANN Boston were all canceled or postponed. 

A non-exhaustive list of U.S. cannabis events affected by the coronavirus is included below.

  • American Herbal Products Association (Oregon)
  • Baltimore Cannabis Relief Festival (Maryland)
  • CCIA Annual Policy Conference (California)
  • CannaFest (Florida)
  • Cannabis Conference 2020 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Cannabis Wedding Expo (Las Vegas and Denver)
  • Conversations in Cannabis (Massachusetts)
  • CWCB Expo (New York City)
  • FlyHi 420 Festival (Denver)
  • Hall of Flowers (California) 
  • High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley (California)
  • MITA March Mixer (Arizona)
  • NCIA Cannabis Caucus meetups (Various U.S. Cities)
  • National Cannabis Risk Management Association conference 
  • NECANN (Massachusetts and Illinois)
  • NoCo Hemp Expo (Colorado)
  • ROTH Capital Conference (California)
  • Women in Cannabis Summit (Vermont)
  • 420 Broward Festival 2020 (Florida)

As of press time, there were 214,894 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 worldwide and 8,732 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there were 7,769 confirmed and presumptive positive cases and 118 deaths as of press time.

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