The Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Its Impact on the Cannabis Industry

Last week, as panic and hysteria around COVID-19 began to outbreak, we posted a blog about why cannabis is your best defense against the coronavirus

If you don’t want to read our other blog, the TL;DR of it was this: Cannabis has anti-stress and antimicrobial properties, keeping your immune system strong and protecting you against both certain types of bacteria and your own anxiety.

We aren’t the only ones to make a statement about cannabis in relation to the coronavirus. Cannabis Magazine published an article this past week that echoed our sentiment: cannabis can’t cure the coronavirus (or flu, for that matter), but can help you endure your symptoms. A world news site wrote about how turkish advocates are now pushing for expedited hemp production, in the hopes CBD can help people find relief during the next 6-12 months of waiting on a vaccine. UK cannabis specialist, Dani Gordon, also echoed our sentiment: cannabis and CBD can help you deal with the stress of this whole situation, which is ultimately the most lethal culprit in both our health and behavior right now.

Still, ours may have been the only blog written with a bit of an inferred eye-roll. In the face of what initially felt like a molehill in the United States, we were frustrated that Hall of Flowers was being postponed, along with our annual Hollister bike rally. As the world has grown more educated about COVID-19, it’s become evident why all the cancellations truly are for the best: to make sure the curve of the molehill doesn’t turn into a mountain.

Thankfully, our business hasn’t been cancelled. In the Bay Area, dispensaries have recently been deemed medically essential.

While marijuana has long been recognized for its medicinal benefits, it’s only been medically legal in California since 1996. We’ve come a long way over the past 25 years as a society, with over 30 states now legally recognizing marijuana as an alternative medicine. We definitely had our own moment of panic, though; as we weren’t 100% sure this past week if we would have to shut down or not. (Admittedly, this industry still has a target on its back.)

At Hollister, we’ve always prioritized the health and safety of our products and manufacturing process. We’re continuing to maintain our strict protocols, but have also now issued guidelines to our employees and started taking a few extra vigilant precautions:

  • – We’re social distancing as much as we can, with our corporate team working remotely to minimize fact-to-face contact.

  • – We’re working on rolling out a virtual Demo Day program, so we can continue driving brand awareness for our HashBones from a distance.

  • – Our manufacturing team members are now stationed at least 6 feet away from each other.

  • – Our manufacturing team regularly wears protective hair nets and gloves, but we are now mandating masks; and that our security guards wear them as well.

  • – We’ve stocked up on cleaning supplies, and are now disinfecting surfaces every few hours.

  • – Overall, we’re taking care of ourselves to maintain maximum wellness and production.

We aren’t the only Bay Area or Central Coast cannabis company that’s feeling the aftershocks and being forced to pivot. There’s a general air of uncertainty throughout the industry, especially with potential vape supply chain disruptions from China
. Many dispensaries have had to switch to pre-order or delivery only, to follow “social distancing” mandates by counties disallowing people into budrooms. Gloves are also being worn, with the exchange of cash now being a heightened concern.

With the initial threat of shutdowns, cannabis sales spiked last week across multiple states. Patients were immediately filled with fear and anxiety over our nation’s pandemic crisis. Times like these tend to remind our society of the importance and healing power of this plant, especially for managing our chronic health conditions (and the mounting stress we’re now all under).

Cannabis retail sales may have spiked at first, but foot traffic and the cannabis stock market have both taken a hit. (And by “hit”, we mean the kind of hit that doesn’t seem that big, only to end up way too paranoid to answer the door for the pizza you ordered because you forgot the coronavirus can live on cardboard for roughly 24 hours.)

MJBiz reported that capital resources may quickly become a pain-point for some companies, with cash flow becoming less. However, the report also emphasizes not to panic, as some companies will likely make it out of this on an upswing and look even more attractive to willing investors. It all depends on how well an individual cannabis company can adapt. At Hollister, we are actively adapting as best we can.

If you’re someone who works at a dispensary or in the cannabis industry, we highly recommend you also do your due diligence to make sure you’re adapting as well as possible:

  • – Make sure you’re tuned into updates from your county, for any social distancing or operating hour mandates you need to be adhering to.

  • – Issue your employees COVID-19 guidelines, if you haven’t already.

  • – Review your contracts and policies for terms related to “unforeseen circumstances” and “acts of God”, and plan how to brace for supply chain or cash flow disruptions.

  • – Communicate, and focus on your relationships. Be honest with both your buyers and patients about the status of your business.

  • – Get creative. This is the time to evaluate which part of your processes are essential, and which can be changed or improved. Look to be of service in new ways, and take your business where it hasn’t gone before.