Legal marijuana sales in multiple states reached record highs in mid-2020 as coronavirus spread across the nation, according a new study. To date, sales in the four states examined in the analysis—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington—”have increased more during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the previous two years.”
The study, authored by a group of health researchers, gathered pre-tax cannabis sales data from state regulatory agencies and compared those numbers over time. It found that even amid stay-at-home orders that dealt hard hits to other economic sectors, cannabis sales picked up speed.
“Findings show a general increase in cannabis sales following stay-at-home orders issued in AK, CO, OR, and WA in late March 2020,” the report, published last week in the International Journal of Drug Policy, says. “In all four states, those increases were greater than the percent increases observed in the preceding two years.”
Authors include researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of Washington’s Drug and Alcohol Institute and health and regulatory agencies in several states. While official data releases and news articles documented the spike in marijuana sales as it occurred, the new report calls itself “the first study in the academic literature to document changes in U.S. cannabis sales data during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While the authors didn’t attempt to determine the causes behind the increased sales, they speculated the boost might be related to a number of different factors: increased cannabis use among individuals coping with stress, stay-at-home orders pushing consumers from the illicit market to licensed stores, possible price increases due to rising demand and/or purchasing of more expensive cannabis products, such as concentrates and oils.
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