Updated: Mar 19, 2020
As the coronavirus spreads in California, cannabis businesses including Lowell Farms, Caliva, Sweet Flower and Sherbinskis say the demand is high: "People are stocking up."
Tensions are running high in Los Angeles over coronavirus-related health concerns, the cancelation of numerous public events and the new normal of working from home. Local cannabis companies and delivery services say they're seeing an uptick in business in these trying times. Angelenos are turning to CBD and THC products to combat anxieties and stocking up like they are with bottled water and toilet paper.
"People are in scarcity mode. The streets are emptier, but specific businesses like grocery stores and dispensaries are seeing more people than usual — and people are stocking up and purchasing in bulk," says Steve Lilak, the head of sales for California cannabis company NUG. "I've seen regular customers buying three or four of what they normally buy just one of in L.A. dispensaries." He adds that one Hollywood shop he spoke with saw 1,000 customers on Wednesday when they usually see that amount on a Saturday.
A rep for Lowell Farms — the Miley Cyrus-loved label that's behind L.A.'s Cannabis Cafe — tells The Hollywood Reporter pre-roll sales have seen "a slight uptick, potentially due to calming effect of cannabis and benefits of assisting anxiety."
The Sherbinskis dispensary on Fairfax, which has partnered with Post Malone in the past, is having its best week ever in sales and delivery is busier "than ever before," the shop reports.
As for Caliva (Jay-Z is its chief brand strategist), its delivery business is seeing double-digit growth in March so far. "We have seen an increase in our delivery services across all of our locations, with record-breaking sales over the past two weeks," says president Steve Allan. Sales have increased for the most popular products, including the Dogwalkers, Reef Leaf and Deli by Caliva Ounces and Quarters.
Calexo, a newly launched line of sparkling cannabis beverages with each $20 bottle offering 10 mg of "nano-emulsified" THC, is expecting a rise in sales this week, too.
Its CEO Brandon Andrew tells THR he does "anticipate sales to be swift, especially as people look for ways to cope with fear of the pandemic." He notes, "people can adhere to social distancing by ordering through delivery from a dispensary like Sweet Flower on Melrose."
Sweet Flower CMO Kiana Anvaripour attributes the hot market to customers wanting to be prepared and load up. "Because of the virus, consumers are worried about scarcity, which is likely why they are purchasing more products than usual. I also think that many of our customers are turning to our cannabis offerings to promote mental wellness and ease their minds in the midst of the nationwide panic," Anvaripour tells THR.
The L.A. dispensary, with locations on Melrose, downtown and in Studio City, has noticed an increase in delivery orders, "which likely results from consumers avoiding contact within physical retail locations." Sweet Flower is taking "necessary precautions and measures" to ensure a clean environment. (Fans include Sarah Hyland as well as Hollywood stylists Tara Swennen, Jessica Paster and duo Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson).
THR has reached out to other popular dispensaries MedMen and the Herbarium for comment.
So while businesses might be down for restaurants and hotels, the recreational cannabis industry — which was legalized in California in 2018 — seems to be booming.
Edible seller Kiva Confections has even had to "ramp up" production of the Midnight Blueberry Camino gummy with CBN over the next few weeks to meet consumer demand, says COO Adam Grablick. And CBD brand HUGS' self-care products, such as the clay mask and bath bombs, have been "doing exceptionally well." The company believes that people spending more time at home are getting into self-care and trying to relieve stress and anxiety.
Guests are also turning to Malibu cannabis store Higher Standards for last-minute cleaning products. Its website has been "bombarded" with orders for its alcohol-based ISO Pure and Dot Wipes for cleaning glass, metal and silicone.
One person in L.A. County has died from the coronavirus, authorities reported on Wednesday. Hollywood agencies UTA, CAA, ICM and Paradigm have all implemented a work-from-home strategy this week in the wake of the virus.
This week, California governor Gavin Newsom called for all gatherings of more than 250 people to be canceled, while New York governor Andrew Cuomo banned events attracting more than 500 people. On Thursday, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti lowered the count to 50 people maximum.
Major L.A. area events, including Coachella, Stagecoach, the Kids' Choice Awards, Beautycon, Cinemacon, the Fashion Los Angeles Awards, Pantages Theatre shows, WonderCon Anaheim and more have been canceled or delayed.
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