The outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting global pandemic has had a significant impact on most people’s lives and businesses around the world. In the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, panic buying of necessities such as toilet paper, food, and hand sanitizers led to massive shortages. Many businesses that were not deemed an essential service were told to shut their doors until further notice.

At first, this included marijuana dispensaries as they were not considered an essential business. This all changed fairly rapidly as people worried about access to their trusted form of medication and means of relaxation. They complained to their governments and dispensaries were quickly declared essential business[1] es and allowed to reopen as long as they conformed to the standards set forth by the local health departments. This meant social distancing and limiting the number of customers among other things. Marijuana dispensaries were viewed in much the same way that a pharmacy was viewed, and this alone has shown how much people’s perceptions of the cannabis industry have shifted in the past ten years or so.

Have Sales Gone Up or Down Since Lockdown?

In the early days of the global pandemic, many essential items were flying off the shelves leading to shortages and delays in getting everyday household products. However, there was another consumer good that began flying off the shelves in the early days as well and that was marijuana. Many dispensaries throughout the US began to see a massive surge in the popularity of their products. Especially in the beginning, many users feared that dispensaries would be shut down along with many other businesses that were not deemed essential by the authorities. Although, it became apparent that marijuana has now begun to get mainstream recognition and was deemed an essential service in almost all of the 33 states that have medical or recreational marijuana.

In fact, a survey was conducted by the group YouGov with the question “Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be considered essential services?” 53% of the people responding to this question answered with a “yes.” This mirrors the overall sentiment of Americans who increasingly view marijuana as a valuable and beneficial medicinal product. In the first few weeks, some dispensaries have noted a 30% uptick in overall sales while some have seen their figures triple in just a week. Some states even recorded a 20% increase in marijuana sales as many Americans began to hunker down in their homes, while some noted an uptick in the sales of edibles thought to stem from the fear of smoke weakening the respiratory system.[2]  Since March 9th one delivery company said that edible sales were up 15% to 30%, while sales of the plant have gone down 25% to 27% and vape sales are down 33% to 25%.

What Are Dispensaries Doing to Take Precautions Against COVID?

As with many other more mainstream businesses, dispensaries have taken many precautions to help limit the impact of COVID-19. This includes regular cleaning and sanitizing with hand sanitizer stations located throughout the dispensaries. Additionally, they have been limiting the number of guests that can be in a location at one time and of course all patrons are asked to maintain six feet from others and are advised to wear masks. Furthermore, many dispensaries have begun to offer curbside pickup or delivery options to help get the products to the customer while also limiting contact between them. Many states have put temporary measures in place that allow the dispensaries to conduct business outside such as on a sidewalk or property adjacent to the building to allow for contactless pickup. Some have even taken a cue from other businesses such as grocery stores with a senior hour specifically for those that are at a higher risk of contracting COVID.


These have been very trying times for many individuals and many businesses. There is uncertainty about much of our future, but it seems that one thing is certain. Marijuana dispensaries are here to stay and no longer live on the fringes of society. The American public is truly beginning to see the benefits of this plant not only in medical benefits, but also in helping the economy to bounce back to what it once was. Get out there and support your local economy and dispensary responsibly!