DENVER—The marijuana industry, still in its infancy, has been scrambling to meet the needs of customers during a time of social distancing and stay-at-home edicts, USA Today reports. With stores closed in areas where selling cannabis is legal, sellers are pressing for new ways to deliver to customers while also pushing for countrywide legalization. Currently, 11 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, with 33 states allowing cannabis for medical use.
“This is cannabis's moment to find its purpose and its voice,” said Julie Armstrong, CEO of Aurelius Data, which analyzes cannabis data. “It was the opportunity we never saw coming.”
While New York has halted legalization efforts to focus on squashing its coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic in general has consumers turning to cannabis to cope with the boredom and anxiety of stay-at-home edicts. Officials have designated cannabis retailers as essential businesses, along with supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. Industry experts also believe this could be what tips the scale for Congress to allow marijuana businesses to use banks like other retailers because of concerns that hand-to-hand cash transactions could help spread coronavirus.
“It's a really important point that we were deemed essential: In a sea of chaos, this was one of the biggest moments in our industry's history,” Morgan Paxhia, managing partner at California-based Poseidon Asset management, which invests in cannabis businesses, told USA Today.
The legal marijuana industry has about 243,000 full-time-equivalent employees, according to Leafly, an online directory of cannabis retailers.