COVID-19 has caused a drastic increase in Michigan’s marijuana sales.
In November 2018, Michigan voters approved legalizing marijuana for recreational use for anyone 21 and older, and since that time, 84 sites have applied for licensing. Thus far, the state has seen nearly $8 million in revenues. Now, COVID-19 is drastically impacting the market, in both positive and negative ways. Michigan legal cannabis sales jumped from to $5.7 million the week Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that many businesses would be temporarily closed. Michiganders rushed to local shops to stock up. However, when the shelter in place order was executed, the sales for the week dropped by more than $1.2 million, the largest weekly drop in sales.
“We were seeing the same hoarding behavior that we saw happening in grocery stores,” said Mike Elias, the CEO of Common Citizen, which owns marijuana shops in Battle Creek, Detroit and Flint, as well as a grow operation in Marshall, of the original spike in revenue. “People were buying in mass quantities.”
Doug Hellyar, president of the Lume Cannabis Company, said, “The day before the stay-at-home order went into effect, we had the largest single sales day since Lume has been in business. Immediately after the order, people had stocked up and the demand has declined significantly.”
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency sent out guidelines to cannabis businesses saying that retail shops for both medical and recreational marijuana can stay open. However, they would only be able to offer curbside pick-up or delivery during this time. The guidelines also stated, “grow and processing facilities also could stay open to maintain the integrity of the growing plants as long as business owners maintained appropriate social distancing between employees at the businesses.”
“When customers bought mass quantities early on, they are now simply running out of product,” Elias explained, indicating they are now coming back for more. “I think they’re consuming more because they’re home and have a lot more time on their hands.” He added, “The average sale at Common Citizen’s shop in Flint went from $86 last week to $100.”
Hellyar indicated, “We think there’s going to be a significant amount of interest in the delivery service. And if we’re allowed by the stat e to continue curbside pickup, we want to continue to offer that because it’s simple and people don’t have to leave their cars. And there’s probably going to be an interest from people in maintaining social distancing for some time.”
There has also been a shift in sales from smoking and vaping products to edibles amid COVID-19, which causes respiratory problems.
“I’ve switched from smoking to eating edibles,” said Matt Abel, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “After smoking for 45 years, it’s not an easy habit to put down, but it works the best for health reasons.”
Elias confirmed, “We’ve seen a large spike in edible sales from people trying to stay healthy by avoiding smoking. We’re telling people they should avoid buying flower and vaping at this time.”