Is the recent uptick in reported marijuana sales from licensed retailers because the COVID-19 outbreak and shelter-in-place order has people using more cannabis?
While sales reported to the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs have been steadily increasing since last December when it became legal to buy recreational marijuana at licensed stores in Michigan, some may say it’s no coincidence that the week of March 16-22 had the highest reported sales-to-date, at $5,777,599. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instituted the stay-at-home order on March 24, but lots of people had already been anticipating it — and preparing — for some time.
The final week of the month showed a slight dip, at $4,550,811 in sales reported, yet overall, March’s totals of $20,080,630 far surpassed February’s sales of $14,271,910 and January’s sales of $9,448,834.
Jerry Millen, owner of Greenhouse — a marijuana store in Walled Lake — says there’s no doubt people are turning to cannabis more now because of the pandemic, and having to stay home — away from friends and others because of it. Some are “stocking up” in case cannabis retailers get reclassified as a non-essential service, he said. And for plenty of people, smoking marijuana or ingesting edibles is helping them cope with isolation and boredom, Millen said.
“It’s a great stress reliever, if used appropriately and in moderation,” he said.
It also can help people who are having trouble sleeping, he said.
Alcohol consumption has been rising lately, too, according to the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Nationally, sales of booze reportedly spiked 55 percent in the week ending March 21 compared to the same time last year, LARA said. An even higher increase was noted in sales of spirits such as tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails, which jumped 75 percent compared to the same time last year, while beer purchases increased 66 percent and wine sales were up 42 percent, LARA said.
Currently, Greenhouse is offering online ordering and curbside pickup only. That’s the same deal at Breeze in Hazel Park, another licensed marijuana retailer in Oakland County. A store employee on Thursday said sales have been on the rise there lately, too.
The county’s third licensed marijuana store, Lume, which opened last week in Walled Lake, also takes online orders for curbside pickup. On April 3, it becomes the first in Oakland County to offer delivery.
Lume Cannabis Company operates seven marijuana retail stores in Michigan.
“Our business was steady throughout the month of March,” said John Gregory, the company’s chief marketing officer. During the stay-at-home order, Lume Cannabis is focused on making it convenient for customers “to get the products they need, and the ability to accept phone and online pre-sale orders for delivery and curbside pick-up continue to allow us to do just that.”
As of March 29, $52,052,492 in recreational marijuana sales were reported to LARA. Sales have generated $5,205,249 of revenue from excise tax and $3,435,464 in sales tax for Michigan so far.
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