Politico says, since the pandemic hit in March, the sales of legal cannabis have been surging. As a result, marijuana’s “black market” is taking a serious hit. While this may not be 100 percent as a result of COVID, the flu is definitely playing a toll. Let’s be honest, here. COVID has had a negative effect on everything this year. Regardless of what it is you’re talking about, things aren’t as good as they could have been if Corona hadn’t hit the scene.
While many people read the previous sentence and their mind goes to economics, finances, and business, our personal behaviors, and how we act have been just as negatively affected. Regardless of where you live, what you do, your sex or age, everyone is tired of the new normal. No one could have imagined things would be like they currently are this time a year ago.
There’s no reason for us to try and publish a list of all the ways your life has changed since the beginning of March. Each of us has been forced to change and adapt in one way or another. The way we live and interact with one another has been dramatically reshaped and redefined to keep ourselves and others from getting sick. If something is producing an effect on the way consumers spend their money, why would that be limited only to money that is being spent legally? Who’s to say the black market would make it through this pandemic unfazed?
Since March of the year when COVID became a reality for the United States, more people than ever have been using cannabis legally. In the state of Florida alone, since March, there have been over 49,000 people using cannabis legally. The revenue for the cannabis industry this year is expected to climb over $16 billion. Compared to the numbers in 2019, this is well over a 25 percent increase. While industry after industry has taken significant hits this year due to the pandemic, legal cannabis is booking.
Many people look at these numbers as significant evidence the marijuana black market is dropping in numbers. But, in California and a few other states throughout the country, the cannabis market is still being dominated by illegal sales. Many people have gone as far as to estimate over 80 percent of all cannabis sales in California are done illegally, through the black market.
Why would cannabis users switch to buying their products legally?
The price of cannabis is one of the top reasons why many consumers have continued making their purchases on the black market since the start of the pandemic. In states such as California where legal cannabis sales include a high tax, this is especially true. The price is heavily inflated due to state tax prices. With an economy that has taken a hit since March and the start of COVID, it can naturally be expected for consumers to take the cheapest possible route.
Still, as much sense as the previous statement makes, there has been a significant rise in consumers choosing to purchase cannabis legally. During a time when people suffering from anxiety are at an all-time high, those selling cannabis products legally have had to step up the rate at which they buy products in demand by consumers. Even with the black market getting the most of consumer’s attention, there’s also been a significant rise in people making legal purchases. Here are two of the most popular reasons why.
Control of quality with a regulated source: With all of us currently being forced to live in a world that is being dominated by the virus, consumers are finding a sense of security in the fact cannabis that is bought legally is being checked for pesticides. This has added value to consumers. Also, many businesses selling cannabis legally offer services such as delivery and even curbside pick-up. This illuminates the threat of putting yourself at unnecessary risks of getting sick.
When consumers purchase cannabis legally, there is no risk of being arrested. While jail time for cannabis is not the threat it once was, still, no one wants to go through the process of being arrested. By paying the additional tax and making a purchase legally, the consumer finds a sense of ease knowing they are not doing anything against the law.
This list could have included many other reasons why more and more people are now buying cannabis legally. These were just two of the most common reasons given among consumers.
That being said, when you actually spend time talking with people buying cannabis, while more people are buying what they want the legal way, this doesn’t automatically mean fewer people are making illegal purchases. This better represents the fact the pandemic has more people than usual using cannabis products. Also, there has recently been a dramatic increase in drug seizures at borders coming into the United States.
This creates a ripple effect throughout the country. While a consumer may not live anywhere near the border, these seizures could lead to an increase in the cost of the product they normally purchase. This in turn leads to more people being willing to look into buying cannabis legally. Still, the black market cannabis industry is expected to make well over $65 billion throughout 2020.
Here’s the thing. There is a significant amount of consumers more than willing to put their health at risk to save money during a desperate economy. In places like California and many other states, there will always be a thriving black market in cannabis sales, simply because consumers are always looking for the best possible deal they can get. Until lawmakers across the country are willing to look for tax money in other places than cannabis sales, cannabis products sold illegally will always be sought after.
Is COVID creating an increase in efforts to legalize cannabis?
With many states needing a source of additional revenue, it’s almost certain there will be plenty of effort in states all over the country to legalize the use of cannabis products. Following the Great Depression, the prohibition of alcohol was repealed to create additional streams of revenue across the United States. With many areas of the country currently hurting financially due to shutdowns and strict limitations, legalizing and selling cannabis could play a huge role in an easier fix.
Similar effects with the prohibition of cannabis should definitely be expected. Along with the protection of already legal cannabis, should be getting plenty of votes in congress. With the legalization of cannabis at the federal level, more and more states will begin the following suit to help state and local economies recover from the stresses of the pandemic, not to mention the fact cannabis could be used to help with stress, depression, and anxiety, each of which is at all-time highs due to the pandemic.
While federal law will not force state laws to legalize cannabis, similar to the prohibition of alcohol, we can expect the feds to take action legalizing cannabis. This means with cannabis being legalized at the federal level, it will still be up to each individual state and its lawmakers if cannabis becomes legal in their state. Sure, there will be a few hard cases where cannabis remains illegal. But, for the most part, with additional stress to the economy as a result of the pandemic, more and more states will have more reason than ever before to legalize the use of cannabis.
Regardless of your stand on the matter and how you look at the issue, one thing is definitely for certain. Unlike many other industries, when it comes to cannabis, the pandemic has led to more consumers being willing to start using cannabis products, regardless if their purchases are being done legally or not. In a world currently full of madness, this at least sheds a few rays of hope, at least for cannabis users anyway.