Cannabis Sales Are Soaring

What is really "essential"?

Written by Jimmy Mengel
Posted March 26, 2020

Let's talk a little bit about what is "essential" to function in our society during times of unrest...

My grandma always told me: "Jimmy, all you need in life is food, clothes, and shelter."  

That sounds awfully quaint these days, but it is capital-T True.

Call me old-fashioned, but I would start the "essential" debate with hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores. But after living through a few weeks of this madness, I would gladly grandfather in childcare facilities, hardware stores, and banks.

We are based in Maryland, so when our Governor Larry Hogan recently decreed that all "non-essential" businesses would be shut down, I was more than curious. I didn't really know what that meant until I read the state's list.

I was a bit surprised when it included pet stores, dry cleaners, and liquor stores. Now, I totally get liquor stores; if you took away the access to booze, we'd have thousands of people doing their best Jack Nicholson Shining impressions. That alone could be worse than the virus itself.

But I can order pet food for my dog, and press my own damn shirts — if I even decide to wear one on a given day.

However, one thing that people are hoarding besides canned goods, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer is...


That's right, if you are going to be stuck inside for months, you may want a little something extra to help blow off some steam. And cannabis has been flying off the shelves...

With the specter of months-long sequestration looming large, record numbers of people have lined up at cannabis shops and medical dispensaries around the world.

Just look at this photo from Amsterdam:


And California:

california cannabis line

Overall, from March 16 to March 22 sales of recreational cannabis were up 50% and medical marijuana sales rose 41% from the same period last year.

People are buying it in droves, and they are continuing to do so despite many states demanding citizens to shelter in place and avoid large crowds.

I never thought I would say this, but most local governments have deemed cannabis as “essential” if used medically, and many dispensaries can stay open. Twelve states have allowed some recreational cannabis companies to remain operational during the pandemic.

In California — the largest U.S. market — every state-licensed marijuana company may continue to operate normally.

Now that most people are responsibly staying put in their homes, we've seen delivery services rise. While it may be born out of fright and necessity, having customers get used to delivery services will be a good trend for the long term...

Currently, many people don't shop regularly at dispensaries. Many — especially older folks — still feel a bit uncomfortable about the whole experience. The above photos showing massive lines in cannabis shops certainly haven't made those people more comfortable.

People are staying home and ordering medical supplies, food, alcohol — practically anything they can to avoid risking a trip to the store, where most items of need are already sold out.

E-commerce platform Jane Technologies reported the number of new users ordering online has increased 142% over the last month.

In Canada, demand has increased so much that the country is now allowing Canada Post — which ships most of the cannabis in the country — to deliver cannabis to residents without them having to sign for the package, which was required by law in the past.

In an interview with Marijuana Business Daily, Pineapple Express Delivery noted that it is offering doorstep deliveries all around Ontario, which is one of the biggest markets.

It is already having to expand its services to meet the demand.

“Our volume has tripled in the provinces we are operating in so far. I am sure we should see this grow even higher with the latest news,” CEO Randy Rolph said in the interview.

Cannabis giant Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED, NYSE: CGC) has closed all of its brick-and-mortar locations and is moving its massive operation entirely online.

“We have a responsibility to our employees, their families and our communities to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ by limiting social interactions. For us, that means shifting our focus from retail to e-commerce,” CEO David Klein said in a statement.

Klein also noted that sales for all of their products are far above average. Canopy stock was up over 10% today as I write this, and up 40% in the last five days.

Once consumers get used to the ease and discreetness of mail order, I am sure that there will be thousands upon thousands of repeat customers. Many companies — especially those dealing with medical cannabis — can offer monthly subscriptions and scheduled orders. These are the best and most reliable customers that you can have.

So there is some silver lining for cannabis companies during the stock market collapse. I expect we'll see some better-than-average sales numbers coming out in the months following.

Here's to hoping we keep hearing good news from the sector — god knows we need it right now.

I'll be scouting cannabis companies that will come out of this well-stocked and ready to keep serving the masses.


Jimmy Mengel

follow basic @mengeled on Twitter

Jimmy is a managing editor for Outsider Club and the investment director of several personal finance advisories, The Crow's Nest, and The Adventure Capitalist For more on Jimmy, check out his editor's page.

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