Illustration of a human head made of hemp leaves wearing a surgical mask to protect against covid-19 spread

The new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is affecting millions of businesses around the world. Stores are closing and cities in the U.S. and around the world look like film sets for Hollywood apocalypse movies: empty and fearsome. Reality has changed, and the future is unclear – when will we get back to our routines? How will the virus affect the economy and our lives? How will Corona affect different industries? 

Although there are no clear answers or predictions about post-corona life, COVID-19 will undoubtedly affect many business sectors. In this article, we will address the correlation between the new coronavirus and the cannabis and CBD industries.

What Is COVID-19?

Per the World Health Organization, the new coronavirus causes the infectious disease, COVID-19. It is a respiratory illness that travels from person to person through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when the infected person sneezes or coughs. China was the first to record cases of COVID-19, but the government still hasn’t confirmed the identity of ‘patient zero’ – the first infected patient. Theories claim that the virus outbreak started in November, but according to the Chinese government, the first recorded cases of COVID-19 were in Hubei, China, in December 2019.

Once the outbreak started in China, many travelers brought the illness to other parts of the world and the virus started spreading around the globe. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic – the global outbreak of a disease. On March 13, 2020, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, declared a national emergency because of COVID-19.

In the last three months, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the world economy, stock market, and businesses. Almost 3.3 million people filed claims for unemployment benefits between March 14th through March 21st, 2020, according to data from the Department of Labor. 

A graph depicting a sharp decline in the U.S. Stock market since coronavirus pandemic started

Source: BBC.com.

And what about cannabis and CBD products? In the past few weeks, many questions have been raised, and many rumors have been spreading around it.

Can Cannabis and CBD Products Cure or Prevent COVID-19?

Image of a jar containing cannabis buds on a professional office desk

One question people have been asking in the last few weeks is if cannabis or CBD products can strengthen their immune system so that they are safe from getting COVID-19. When it comes to a deadly disease like COVID-19, it’s essential to avoid any false claims. There is no evidence that cannabis or CBD products can prevent getting infected with COVID-19. It might support your immune system, but so does a good night’s sleep, healthy diet, physical activity, and laughter, etc. And people with a strong immune system might still get infected. Health experts are still studying the illness, and it’s too early to make any claims. There are no studies that show cannabis products affect the coronavirus – either for preventing or curing it. No treatment is available for COVID-19, and it is unclear what natural supplements can affect the virus.

Will COVID-19 Impact Sales of Cannabis & CBD Products?

The new infection influences not only the health of the infected but also the world economy, sales of products, exchange rates, etc. Toilet paper shelves are empty at many stores across the country, and people have started bulk-buying different items. And so, if you sell cannabis or CBD products, you probably want to know if COVID-19 will impact your business, too.

The brief answer is, “yes; it will affect your business.” But the exact ways COVID-19 will impact companies selling cannabis or CBD products is unclear. It primarily depends on the customers, location, and the local government. Many of your clients will probably stock up on their supplies, so they don’t have to worry about running out during the lockdown. For instance, in Seattle, some purchased cannabis products close to their limit, and the city saw cannabis sales increase.

On the other hand, many cannabis and CBD customers avoided going to stores even at the early stage of the outbreak. As a result, many stores saw less traffic with fewer sales.

“This year is all just about survival,”  

Debby Goldsberry, executive director at Magnolia Wellness, a cannabis microbusiness in Oakland.

Are Cannabis and CBD Companies Considered Essential Businesses?

Most of the U.S. states imposed restrictions on which companies can stay open during the COVID-19 outbreak. Local governments ordered that only ‘essential’ businesses can operate during the outbreak. But there is no exact formula for defining if a company is essential. It’s up to the local government to decide which are essential and nonessential businesses.

So if you own a cannabis dispensary or a CBD business, you want to know if your business falls into the category of ‘essential businesses.’ You should check with your local authorities, but in general cannabis dispensaries have been deemed essential across much of the country, while CBD retailers have not.

On March 20, 2020, Los Angeles County tweeted:

“To answer a popular question: cannabis dispensaries with a medicinal cannabis license are considered essential and may remain open.”

Recreational cannabis store operators in Colorado can resume selling their products inside their storefronts. Connecticut state guidance includes medical marijuana dispensaries as part of the health-care sector and can remain open. All medical marijuana dispensaries can remain open in Delaware. Although the stay-at-home order for Florida doesn’t address cannabis, the state’s surgeon general determined that medical cannabis companies qualify as an “essential” part of the state’s health-care sector. 

On March 17, 2020, New York state health regulators declared licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to be “essential” businesses so they can remain open during the outbreak. In addition, the city of San Francisco ordered all marijuana businesses to cancel operations, deeming them “nonessential.” But later, the government reversed its decision and said the cannabis dispensaries are essential and could re-open.

Find out more about which states’ stay-at-home orders are affecting cannabis dispensaries across the country.

COVID-19 and Cannabis / CBD Event Cancellations

Many events are now off the calendar because of the new virus. Gatherings of over 10 people are prohibited now because of stay-at-home orders across the country. Due to the new regulation, many cannabis and CBD related events are also canceled.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for instance, planned to visit the states where marijuana is legal. He assured the public that New York would legalize marijuana in 2020 and included legalization in his budget proposal in January. Cuomo wanted to travel to these states to understand the benefits of legalization before proposing legalization for New York. But because the state of New York is now dealing with the virus outbreak, his tour is delayed. The tour delay means that marijuana legalization will happen later than planned.

COVID-19 affected other events such as the Natural Products Expo West 2020 event in Anaheim, California, which featured different CBD exhibitors.

“After consulting with key partners within the natural products community, New Hope Network has decided that, due to the developing circumstances around the COVID-19 virus, we will not move forward with hosting a rescheduled Natural Products Expo West event in Anaheim in 2020. We are shifting our focus and resources toward making Natural Products Expo East 2020 (Philadelphia, Sept. 23-26) this year’s world-class innovation showcase and community gathering needed by the natural & organic products industry.

Natural Products Expo West

CannaTech in Tel Aviv will not take place in March. Organizers hope to hold the event in mid-June.

“In light of developing circumstances with the COVID-19 coronavirus and based on recommendations from the Israeli Ministry of Health, the WHO, and the CDC, we are postponing CannaTech Tel Aviv until June 15-16, 2020.”

CannaTech

If you were planning to attend Cannabusiness at South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas, it is not going to take place in March, due to the virus.

“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants, we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.

SXSW

The Hemp-CBD Supplement Congress in Portland, Oregon, will take place in August instead of in April.

The largest B2B cannabis industry event in Europe, the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin – with attendees from over 70 countries – has new dates: July 29-31, 2020.

COVID-19 and Cannabis Vaporizer Supplies

According to industry analysts, 90-95% of the components that comprise a cannabis vaporizer come from China. Because of the virus outbreak, many factories in China stopped operating and exporting their products. Although some factories are now back to manufacturing, they cannot work to full capacity. This will impact not only vaping hardware, but marijuana packaging, plastics, and extraction and cultivation equipment, according to mjbizdaily.com.

“The cannabis industry is not just about growing and processing hemp. A number of other components used to intake marijuana are produced in China. The country is a low-cost producer of vaporizer, and as production has been halted due to the coronavirus outbreak, it will lead to a shortage in supply of final goods.”

Yahoo! Finance

This is a difficult time for many industries in the world; many businesses strive to survive and overcome the issues created by the pandemic. We hope that the cannabis market, as well as the other industries in the world, will soon go back to normal.  It will be nice when customers can go back to their regular habits of purchasing your products without any interruptions. 

Should I Invest in Marketing My Cannabis or CBD Business During COVID-19 Lockdowns?

This is the time to lean in! We are actively advocating that cannabis stores keep their marketing strategies in place for as long as possible. At this time, if you pause or reduce your marketing budgets, the effect on your current rankings and future endeavors could be problematic for your company. If your competition continues and uses this time to reposition themselves, they will be at an advantage when services resume, and this could be costly in the long term for your company. You don’t want to be playing catch-up with the competition once this challenging time has resolved itself.

We are encouraging businesses to use this time to create new thought-provoking content or to blog. This will help to increase your rankings and to attract new clients. People will be home, so there are opportunities to reach clients with social media and targeted marketing strategies. We would love to help you leverage this opportunity to grow your business. Call us today!