Coronavirus’ Impact on the Cannabis Industry
How the Coronavirus Crisis is Reshaping the Cannabis Industry
One element of the cannabis industry that the coronavirus pandemic has put into perspective is how tenuous the distinction between ‘recreational marijuana’ and ‘medical marijuana’ is, in practicality. Many states cannabis use is medically permitted and have declared medical cannabis dispensaries to be essential businesses. Others, such as California, Oregon, and Colorado, have permitted both medical dispensaries and recreational cannabis stores to remain open in spite of their stay-at-home orders. In response, many cannabis businesses have put measures in place to protect their customers and staff, such as curbside pickup, or additional shifts for delivery staff.
Thought leaders in the legal marijuana industry have speculated that the pandemic will affect the types of cannabis products the market consumes. Because of the way the virus spreads, people are likely to be more conscious of the dangers of passing joints. Alternative products that can be shared without being an easy vector for viral transmission include gummies, beverages, and baked goods.
There are companies that have turned to mass redundancies in order to try and weather the coronavirus storm. On March 23 Organigram, (Not a holding in the Cannabis Growth Fund) a Canadian cannabis production company, warned it would be reducing its workforce, and later let nearly half of its employees, 400 people, go with the intention of hiring them back later. Other companies have had to furlough workers because of local government decisions closing dispensaries for anything other than deliveries. Dispensaries and retail facilities in areas that rely on tourism, such as Las Vegas, are seeing a downturn in sales because of the significant decrease in vacationers, further necessitating a tightening of belts and potential redundancies.
Impact of Coronavirus on the Cannabis Supply Chain
In the initial stages of the outbreak in Wuhan and its ripples throughout China, many factories were closed throughout the country, which has had a significant impact on general production across many industries. For the cannabis industry in particular, supply chain has been an issue. It has been difficult for American companies to source domestic production, as there are few American facilities prepared to produce vaping hardware or specific packaging for cannabis products. While these Chinese factories are now generally back to work, many are operating at reduced efficiency owing to the need for social distancing measures to protect employees. KushCo (Not a holding in the Cannabis Growth Fund) is one big industry name facing shortages. US companies have been moving quickly to find alternative production facilities in countries like India and Mexico.
Upcoming Relief Legislation and the Cannabis Industry
One aspect of the coronavirus pandemic that may include positives for the cannabis industry is the Heroes Act. This relief bill, passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate, includes the SAFE Banking Act, intended to allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where cannabis is legal. While the SAFE Banking Act was separately passed by the House in 2019, it has stalled in the Senate. Regardless of whether the $3 trillion bill gets past the Senate to the White House or not, the indication that there are representatives thinking of how the cannabis industry can be supported in this difficult time is encouraging. This is especially true considering that the previous relief bill entirely neglected provisions for cannabis companies.
As it is, the political situation has made it likelier that those previously resistant to the idea of cannabis legalization or banking access for cannabis companies will swallow their distaste and stand aside. At this time more than ever, states need tax revenue to manage the incredible costs of the pandemic and the loss in productivity. Legal cannabis is one avenue of income that many states have yet to embrace, but which the demand for appears to be pandemic-proof. In fact, after the CDC recommended that medical patients using marijuana to manage their conditions stock up on a month’s supply prior to lockdown, many cannabis companies are reporting a surge in sales. Stores in the San Francisco Bay Area have reported sales increases of more than 50% since January.
The Cannabis Growth Fund offers an opportunity for investors to support publicly-traded cannabis companies during the pandemic.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
Statements, estimates and forecasts are subject to significant legal, business, economic, and competitive uncertainties, including competition, limited access to bank services, litigation, enforcement actions, and the receipt of government authorizations. This includes differences in, among other things, laws, regulations and guidelines relating to the manufacture, transportation, and storage of cannabis, and the conduct of operations, which vary among the U.S. federal government, various states, and foreign jurisdictions. There can no assurance that such estimates and/or forecasts will be realized, and these are not indicative of future investment performance. Historical data is not indicative of future performance.
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