Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Florida’s medical marijuana industry continues to surge, with sales remaining well above pre-pandemic levels.
Demand for medical marijuana is at an all-time high, providing yet another example of the durability of cannabis demand in times of economic distress.
Over the first 10 weeks of 2020, dispensaries in Florida sold an average of 22,800 ounces of smokable MMJ per week.
However, dispensaries sold nearly 36,400 ounces during the seven-day period beginning March 13 – an increase of 38% from the previous week – just as COVID-19 fears began to enter the mainstream.
Florida’s program reports weekly sales figures beginning on a Friday and ending the following Thursday.
The seven-day period beginning April 17 was another record week for sales in Florida, with patients purchasing a collective 39,290 ounces of smokable flower.
That week happened to align with two major sales catalysts:
- The first round of coronavirus stimulus checks hitting Americans’ bank accounts.
- The unofficial cannabis holiday, 4/20.
While flower sales have been more volatile than usual on a week-to-week basis, they remained higher than at any point before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, this sustained period of elevated demand is driven by an increase in consumption among existing patients, not just from new patients entering the market.
In the first 10 weeks of the year, the average medical marijuana patient in Florida purchased 2 grams of smokable flower per week.
For the past four weeks of data – or the seven-day period beginning May 1 through the seven-day period ending May 28 – the average patient purchased 2.9 grams of flower per week, an increase of 43%.
Besides allowing existing MMJ patients to renew their registrations via teleconference instead of in person, Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use didn’t take any substantive measures to bolster the industry amid the coronavirus crisis.
But regulators likely didn’t need to.
The state classified medical marijuana dispensaries as essential businesses early in the pandemic, and MMJ retailers have been allowed to deliver product to patients since the market launched.
The big question for both Florida’s MMJ market and the cannabis industry at-large is whether sales will continue to hold strong in the event that the additional, temporary coronavirus unemployment benefits run out before the economy is able to recover.
Eli McVey can be reached at email@example.com
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