Week in Review: Recreational marijuana sales tumble, cannabis stores open during pandemic, Harvest-Verano deal dead & more

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Only a few days after adult-use marijuana sales soared amid the coronavirus scare, they took a nosedive.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The roller-coaster ride in marijuana sales was to be expected. Initially, consumers, panicked by the pandemic, stockpiled products.

The sudden drop might mark a natural decline after consumers stocked up before sheltering in place, or it could be the result of economic pressures from the pandemic, which has resulted in the closure of restaurants, gyms, ski resorts and scores of other businesses as well as the loss of millions of jobs. Time will tell.

Which stay-at-home states are allowing MJ businesses to stay open?

Medical cannabis dispensaries can remain open in states that have ordered nonessential businesses to close. In most states, medical marijuana dispensaries are considered essential. It varies from state-to-state whether recreational marijuana stores can remain open.

MJBizDaily takeaway: This is further proof that marijuana has made it to the mainstream in the U.S. State and local officials from coast to coast have officially recognized that cannabis is essential to the quality of life for many Americans, just as pharmacies and hospitals are.

Harvest Health, Verano end giant cannabis deal

MJBizDaily takeaway: Megadeals in the marijuana industry seem to be increasingly a thing of the past as tighter capital availability, falling share prices and now pressures from the coronavirus pandemic put huge strain on transactions that were announced in far rosier times.

Marijuana drive-thru windows take off during coronavirus scare

Cannabis retailers are increasingly offering drive-thru service to help limit contact with customers amid the coronavirus scare.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Drive-thru windows – in some cases quite high-tech, much like e-commerce and deliveries – mark another way that cannabis stores are striving to provide social distancing between employees and customers during the pandemic.

Ontario, Quebec call cannabis sector ‘essential’

Regulated marijuana stores have been designated “essential” businesses in Canadian provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, which means they can stay open while nonessential businesses close their doors to customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec and Ontario accounted for 45% of the 155 million Canadian dollars ($108 million) in sales that the nation’s adult-use cannabis industry generated in January.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The Canadian cannabis industry dodged financial ruin this week. More than half of Canada’s 337 federal cannabis license holders are in Quebec and Ontario, so any halt – even temporarily – to their production would have been a devastating blow for already struggling industry.

Coronavirus impact on CBD sales unclear

CBD manufacturers are experiencing mixed impacts from the market turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Producers say their online sales are up, but they’re also suffering from the mandatory closures of mainstream retail outlets that increasingly carry CBD products.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Because CBD products are sold through traditional sales channels, they’re subject to the same market forces that affect any consumer packaged good. Where many states are allowing marijuana retailers to stay open despite shutdowns, some retailers selling over-the-counter CBD products aren’t getting special treatment.

John Rebchook can be reached at johnr@mjbizdaily.com

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.