The coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of changes for multiple industries, including the marijuana industry.
Today is 4/20, a day that is usually full of large crowds gathering to celebrate the legalization of marijuana. Typically, it causes a spike in cannabis sales and consumption but this year will be different with social distancing orders in place and large groups prohibited from gathering. However, the changes certainly didn’t slow down the marijuana industry, in fact, according to the OLCC, it brought a big boost.
“Over the beginning of first quarter we’ve seen a bigger boom,” said Brie Malarkey, the Managing Partner at Breeze Botanicals, “I think people are really stocking up.”
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) says marijuana sales were up 30% in March, compared to last year; making March 2020 the largest month on record for the state.
“You hear it all over the news with alcohol and cannabis,” said Malarkey, “I think people are just wanting to relax and take away some of the pressure and stress.”
In all, Oregon residents spent about $84 million on marijuana sales in March 2020, that’s quite the increase compared to February’s $69.5 million.
Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for the OLCC, told NewsWatch 12 there was a “distinct uptick in the week right before the stay-at-home.”
In March the OLCC made temporary changes to help make legal marijuana accessible throughout Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay home, save lives,” executive order.
“OLCC was really responsive,” said Malarkey, “I’ve ben really please with OLCC. They’ve really been listening to the needs of the industry and to consumers.”
One of the major changes allows alcohol and marijuana licensees to accept expired Oregon driver licenses or identification cards that expired on or after March 8th. That decision aligns with the DMV, which closed offices during COVID-19 effectively making it impossible to get a renewed license.
The OLCC has also approved a temporary rule that allows licensed marijuana retailers to take order and deliver product. The rule also increases the amount of flower that OMMP cardholders and caregivers can purchase to 24 ounces per day and no more than 32 ounces per month. This change temporarily increases the daily purchase limit for OMMP cardholders to match their personal possession limit. This rule does not change the total monthly amount a cardholder or caregiver is currently permitted to purchase from an OLCC-licensed retailer.
In California, there hasn’t been changes in regulations outside of Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order that declares marijuana dispensaries essential businesses.
Siskiyou county sheriff, Jon Lopey says he’s seen an increase in marijuana use in the county and has deputies watching for drivers under the influence of marijuana, especially today on 4/20.
“It’s a symbolic day, especially after 4:20p.m. It’s encouraging people to get together and to consumer marijuana in celebration of this symbolic day,” said Lopey, “My concern is that we could have groups of people gathering and consuming marijuana products and because we are a big county a lot of the time these people are operating a motor vehicle.”