COVID, a boon for cannabis?

While 2020 may have been a bust for many blue-chip industries, it was a boon for the cannabis industry. Sales of cannabis products shattered former records in mature markets such as Colorado and Oregon. The cannabis industry, unlike many others, benefited when states—like Nevada—deemed cannabis “essential,” allowing businesses to continue operations.

While sales for the 4th quarter are still outstanding, Nevada is one of the few states to see a decline. The decrease in tourism explains this. For example, in 2019, McCarran Airport saw 51,537,638 total passengers and only 20,531,711 in 2020. Nevada still showed strong sales with more than $554 million in medical and recreational sales through September despite the drop in tourism.

Overall, sales are predicted to increase in all legal markets.

Some specifics:

  • California’s legal market—which launched in 2018—hit $4.4 billion in sales, compared with $2.8 billion in 2019 and $1.4 billion in 2018.
  • Colorado’s sales figures for medical and recreational cannabis exceeded $2 billion even without December sales yet tabulated, up from $1.7 billion in 2019 and $1.5 billion in 2018.
  • Oregon’s annual sales surpassed $1 billion for the first time in 2020. The state had four months in a row with sales in excess of $100 million.
  • Washington state, the second-oldest adult-use market in the country, reached a sales high of $1.4 billion in 2020, up from $1.1 billion in 2019 and just over $1 billion in 2018.
  • Illinois set a high bar for performance in its first year of adult-use sales by breaking the $1 billion threshold.
  • Massachusetts hit almost $700 million in sales, up roughly 56% from 2019—despite last spring’s adult-use store closures.
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