When the coronavirus lock-downs initially started, the cannabis industry saw a skyrocket in sales. Not sure of how long these stay-at-home orders were going to last, everyone hoarded as much cannabis as possible.
While this jump in sales did eventually stagnate back to normal, the rise of COVID-19 and the potential of other pandemics may impacted the way we purchase cannabis.
In the months to come, many of us remained locked in our homes. Some were scared even a simple errand run posed a great risk. And, with that, we used delivery services to combat our fears.
While cannabis delivery isn’t necessarily a new way to purchase our medicine, it’s become an essential aspect of the industry since COVID-19 first hit the country.
Throughout this article, we’re going to explore how COVID-19 impacted cannabis delivery services. From the people who were buying to the people who were driving these goods around.
How Essential is Cannabis?
Every state had different mandates in terms of the lock-down. Some were more lenient and allowed citizens to resume life as previously. On the other hand, some states were much more intense, closing down all non-essential businesses and urging citizens to only go outside for necessities.
In the majority of states where cannabis has been legalized (either recreationally or medicinally), it was deemed essential. But cannabis’ level of essential varied from state-to-state.
For example, in California people were still allowed to go into their favorite dispensaries and browse the selection as long as safety measures were put into place. However, in Nevada, all cannabis businesses were closed except for delivery services.
These little details play a big role in how COVID-19 has shaped the way we purchase cannabis. While someone in California may not have changed their buying habits, someone in Nevada was forced to give delivery services a try.
COVID-19’s Impact on the Way We Purchase Cannabis
It may not be obvious yet, but COVID-19 has changed consumer’s purchasing preferences in general. Take I Heart Jane’s platform as a prime example.
I Heart Jane helps to harmonize sales between customers and a total of 1,300 dispensaries around the country. When California placed it’s regulations on cannabis purchasing, the platform implemented curbside pick up as an option. As a result, 100,000 new users signed up within a week.
The move was effective for one simple reason – people don’t want to wait in line in stores. Why not order ahead (with payment already made) and simply have your cannabis waiting for you?
Delivery services offer a similar convenience when it comes to the way a consumer purchases products. Why even leave your home when what you want can be handed to you at your doorstep?
Such conveniences were the reason for Amazon’s rapid increase in success. And, as it’s in human nature to follow conveniences, it’s likely the cannabis will also see an increase in delivery demands.
COVID-19 may have just woken us up to these conveniences which have been around for a few years now.
What About the Drivers?
One aspect of this situation that often goes unnoticed is the fact that the people delivering cannabis products are putting themselves at risk for our convenience. While this risk obviously varies from person-to-person, there’s no denying the sacrifice these drivers are taking.
In the midst of California’s lock-down, the publication Vox interviewed a driver who’s sacrifice has, in many regards, changed him. For the sake of the interview, this driver asked to be referred to as Bryon.
“The biggest change happened the day they announced the shelter-in-place,” Bryon tells Vox. “It happened to be a day I was working at Caliva, and as soon as the announcement came through, our online order system was inundated. I had never seen panic buying, or what appeared to me to be panic buying, like that.”
One of the biggest things Bryon notes is how much of a relief his medicinal users felt knowing they still had access to their natural medicine.
“I hear so often, ‘Thank you for bringing this, I’m so glad you guys are still out there,'” Bryon explains. “I’m on the mission side of cannabis. I’ve seen what it can do firsthand medicinally. I hope I can help spread the message that this silly little weed can do an enormous amount of good.”
While it might not seem it to much of the world, cannabis is essential for a number of people. Before there were set rules concerning whether or not cannabis businesses could stay up and running, there was a bit of uncertainty. It can’t be forgotten that the industry isn’t even a decade old yet.
However, many governors saw the importance cannabis had on the welfare of its citizens. And people like Bryon get to witness this welfare first-hand.
“I feel a real sense of accomplishment at the end of a day,” Bryon concludes. “I always feel good. I’m out helping people. It’s the perfect way I can contribute to my world with the skill sets that I have. I would never be a hospital worker, but I can be the guy that shows up with a smile bringing you the stuff you really, really need or really, really want.”
Of course, Bryon is one of many drivers and his opinion can’t speak for them all. Admittedly, COVID-19 has most likely brought a lot of stress to these essential workers. Beyond the fact that the world is in a pandemic, many dispensaries are swamped and overtime has become a new normal.
There’s no denying that cannabis was an essential for many during the shelter-in-place orders. Due to its essential position, many people found a new ways of purchasing cannabis. Curbside pick-ups and delivery services have not only increased in popularity, but once our lives resume their usual course, they’ll most likely be a new standard of this industry.
Beyond that, we’ve also seen a lot of effort from those who were deemed essential workers. In many regards, these people were on the front-lines just like nurses and doctors. Putting themselves at risk in order to keep society together as much as possible.
If it weren’t for people like Bryon, there’s no telling where the cannabis industry could be in a few years. People like Bryon are playing small roles in the change of consumer purchasing methods.
So, the next time you have a few grams delivered to your door, we suggest you give the driver a solid thanks. And possibly a tip.