A pot shop at your door: Home delivery surges amid outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak has set off an unexpected surge in California's legal marijuana market.

Posted: Mar 20, 2020 10:20 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has set off an unexpected surge in California's legal marijuana market.

One company rushed to expand its delivery fleet. Another has seen sales triple. The global coronavirus pandemic has left millions of people locked out of bars, restaurants and theaters, but it’s been an unexpected boost for some U.S. pot shops.

Marijuana users in the nation’s largest legal pot shop, California, and elsewhere are on a buying binge, as they stock up for potential quarantines or simply light up in search of relief during anxious times and government lockdowns. New York, San Francisco and Palm Springs, California, are among the cities labeling dispensaries “essential” businesses that can remain open during virus lockdowns, in some cases with limitations.

Sales increases also are being witnessed in Colorado and Washington, according to cannabis data company Headset.

Dispensaries, meanwhile, have been quick to accommodate virus-wary customers, boosting delivery and pickup options.

In California, the online delivery marketplace Eaze said order volume jumped 38% on Monday, compared to the annual average, and deliveries overall saw an identical jump. Deliveries to first-time customers spiked over 50%.

The Weedmaps online directory has documented a big jump in delivery and pickup orders, too, and found California saw a 66% increase in order volume in the second week of March, compared to the first week.

Glass House Group CEO Kyle Kazan bought several Priuses to put more delivery vehicles on the road to keep up with demand.

With many consumers reluctant to go out for fear of getting sick, practicing social distancing or ordered to stay inside by government, “we are going to have to bring the store to them,” said Kazan, whose company includes a cultivation arm and four California dispensaries.

“It’s not much different than Amazon,” Kazan said.

At The Herbery, which operates two stores in Vancouver, Washington, sales have spiked about 30% since last Friday, when Gov. Jay Inslee announced widespread school closures and other measures to deal with the outbreak. One store saw sales double on a single day, said owner Jim Mullen.

“People are buying four or five items instead of one or two,” he said. “People are asking what the legal limit is. We’re seeing bulk buying and people stocking up on products.”

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