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Brief Updated: 26 Mar 2020

North Americans Stockpile Cannabis

Extra
Curaleaf

Cannabis customers in Canada and legal US states have rushed to stock up on supplies during the Covid-19 outbreak – signalling its priority status in many consumers’ lives.

In Alberta, Canada, median sales growth on Monday March 16 was up 65% versus the four preceding Mondays, according to data from Seattle-based cannabis research group Headset. Sales in Oregon (+75%) and California (+56%) on March 16 were similarly robust.

Most states where recreational cannabis use is legal have allowed cannabis retailers to stay open as “essential” businesses, but with restrictions that vary by state – with some limiting availability to medical marijuana patients. Massachusetts-based Curaleaf, which operates 53 dispensaries across 17 US states, has instituted measures including prioritising older customers (age 60-plus) for the first hour each day. Curaleaf also introduced WaitList Me, an app used mostly for restaurant waitlist management, which enables customers to wait in their cars rather than queue for service.

Headset found millennials the most motivated to buy, representing 54% of sales during ‘stock-up weekend’ (March 13-16), versus their 48% market share for all of 2019 – no doubt fuelled in part by its role as ‘parental aspirin'. Gen X also grew market share slightly. But while boomers have embraced legalised cannabis, it’s not as top-of-mind for them: their market share dropped from 19% in 2019 to 11% over ‘stock-up weekend’.

Interest in cannabis has been picking up pace generally. Californian cannabis delivery platform Eaze recorded a 74% year-on-year rise in first-time deliveries in 2019. As outlined in A Budding Opportunity, part of our Commercialising Cannabis series, cannabis fills varied consumer needs from escapism and stress relief (akin to alcohol), to use as an all-purpose wellness aid – needs now amplified as consumers seek ways to cope during the pandemic.

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