Just another challenge for an industry accustomed to moving targets
If ever there was a business sector that is accustomed to pivoting and adjusting to changing conditions, it is the legal cannabis industry. From rapidly evolving laws, to last minute changes in regulations, to state by state variances… the cannabis industry knows how to adapt. And that is exactly what we are doing once again.
The COVID-19 virus has impacted virtually everyone in the nation. Businesses are shut down and millions of people have stay-at-home orders.
However, in most states, legal cannabis, has been ruled an “essential business” and has been allowed to stay open… with certain exceptions. The New York Times said that this was “official recognition that for some Americans, cannabis is as necessary as milk and bread.” Not to mention the stress relief consuming cannabis can offer during these trying times.
But how are cannabis businesses coping with this new environment?
In areas that depend on tourists for a large portion of their business, company executives are having to rethink their business strategies. In states such as Nevada, where as much as 80% of cannabis sales comes from tourists, legal dispensaries are now focusing on customers within their communities. They are also employing new strategies such as delivery and online ordering, and working on brand awareness among locals, as well as offering discounts and incentives such as loyalty programs.
In Massachusetts, where recreational is now deemed “non-essential” but medical is allowed, businesses are pivoting quickly to adapt. The state’s decision to keep medical marijuana facilities open while closing recreational marijuana shops had a “rational basis,” according to state regulators. Officials said that keeping rec stores open would harm their ability to control the spread of the virus because they draw customers from across state lines. Cannabis companies are now rapidly adapting to this new environment.
In Denver, the mayor included recreational marijuana shops among the nonessential businesses and were ordered to close. Medical dispensaries, however, were exempt. But after a few hours of public outcry and long lines forming at dispensaries (and doing the opposite of what his intentions were), he allowed the recreational stores to stay open.
Illinois halted recreational sales, but authorized medical marijuana patients to pick up orders curbside or in parking lots.
And in California, cannabis has been deemed as essential, but the state allows local jurisdictions to set more restrictive policies. From social distancing, to curbside delivery, to new sanitation protocols, there simply is not any “business as usual” anymore.
Fortunately, cannabis businesses are accustomed to following changing regulations and policies. Pivoting and adapting to new market conditions is part of our DNA.
Keep in mind that a licensed dispensary is a retail location – where customers can practice social distancing, wear masks, make a purchase, and then leave the premises. The risk of spread is low as long as your staff and customers adhere to the CDC guidelines, as well as applicable state and local government regulations.
Each day, we learn something new about COVID-19 and how it is affecting our communities. Some of the policies we are putting into place are literally mapped out just minutes before implementing. Let your customers and employees know that their health and safety is paramount. Take steps to help manage your customers and employees stress during these anxious times.
Let’s do what we can to be supportive of each other. Let’s make certain that we practice kindness – especially in these trying times. Let’s reach out and offer to help anyone that is in need – even a competitor.
We are a community of resourceful and wonderful people. We can make it through these challenging times… And together, we will all see better days ahead. We are all in this together.