The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc across the globe, overwhelming healthcare systems and social service programs while decimating economies. Our society hasn’t experienced a similar disruption since World War II and we haven’t seen a reduction in economic activity like this since the Great Depression. Here in Oregon, the unemployment rate has surged to over 14% and Governor Kate Brown has ordered all agencies to prepare for budget cuts of 17% across the board. One bright spot for the economy: cannabis.
Oregon’s cannabis industry had its best first quarter of sales through the first three months of 2020, but it was unknown if robust commerce would continue during the COVID-19 pandemic or whether the first three months were buoyed by folks just stocking up. Well, the evidence is in and the first two months of quarantine living in the Beaver State led to new sales records.
The Willamette Week reported on the record breaking sales in March:
Sales data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission show Oregonians bought $84.5 million worth of cannabis products in March—the most in a single month since the state legalized recreational use in 2015. The previous record, set in July 2019, was just shy of $80 million.
The March number is a 37 percent increase from this time last year. Sales per retailer averaged out to $135,000, a 30 percent jump.
Flower accounted for more than half of total sales, while concentrates and extracts made up the second-highest market share.
KGW covered April’s sales that surpassed the recording breaking numbers from just a month earlier:
There is one bright spot in the economy: marijuana sales.
In April, Oregon saw $89 million in legal marijuana sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission reports marijuana sales were up 45% in April, compared to last year, making April 2020 the largest month on record for the state.
Proponents believe the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst for other states and the federal government to legalize marijuana because it would bring tax revenue, create jobs and give the economy a much-needed shot in the arm.
There is a lot of work left to be done, but it is rather remarkable how far the Oregon cannabis industry has come since voters passed the Measure 91 legalization law with over 56% of the vote. Hamstrung by a rare-for-Oregon sales tax, a lack of banking services, unfair federal taxation, and the coronavirus pandemic, enterprising entrepreneurs and hard-working budtenders, farmers, processors, and other industry employees, have created a business sector that the cannabis community can be proud of.
With 69% of Oregon voters understanding that legalization has been a success, the future is bright for the Beaver State’s cannabis industry. By supporting craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, you are providing a boos to our local economy and helping build one of the few flourishing business sectors in the state.