Reassessing the Essential: Cannabis Dispensaries Deemed Essential Businesses

For decades, cannabis has been overlooked for its medicinal and positive uses, but as COVID-19 changes the way humanity approaches daily life, cannabis dispensaries have been deemed just as necessary as grocery stores, causing the business world to re-evaluate the impact and potential of the industry.

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused an unprecedented event on a global scale. The key words to highlight are, “we” and “global.” This is one of the rare moments in history where all of humanity is together in the same fight, with one common enemy. Some of us are battling on the front lines—everyone from medical workers to grocery store employees and truck drivers—while others are supporting remotely. What matters most is that we do our part for the good of others and look inward for the betterment of ourselves.

When it comes to doing good and being our best selves, now is the time to make a positive shift. Take the time to repair, rebuild, or simply make improvements to the foundation of your life so that you are stronger than you were before. A better version of yourself.

While we need to remain sensitive to the world’s current situation, we all should understand that tough times generally present the greatest opportunity for leadership and change. As one of the industry-leading investment firms, we at Arcadian believe it is critically important to highlight an area of business that is in the middle of a change, which has been a long time coming—for us, that is the cannabis industry.

The Coronavirus has no borders, nor does it see race, gender, or occupation. Plants exists in a similar capacity. The natural world views all humans as equals, even though humanity has not reciprocated in the same way. Perhaps with the emergence of the cannabis and hemp industries over the last decade, we may finally understand just how essential coexisting with nature truly is.

While we need to remain sensitive to the world’s current situation, we all should understand that tough times generally present the greatest opportunity for leadership and change.

As the nation and our world grapple with this new reality, we are learning what it means for an element of our lives to be either a necessity or a luxury. Because the plant has properties used to treat so many health conditions, the cannabis industry has been deemed an “essential service” during this health crisis, similar to a pharmacy or a grocery store. As such, people can receive their medicine and the supply chain will remain intact. 

Is cannabis recession-proof?  We are finding out that most businesses are experiencing an increase of 125–200% over the last few weeks. BDS Analytics, a partner in our portfolio of companies that we are extremely fortunate to work with, noted on a recent conference call that the average basket purchased by a consumer is up over 25% from its previous 75-day average. Sales volumes for cannabis retailers have increased significantly. Will that continue?  The industry believes that strong sales will continue throughout the crisis because of how important these products are to the wellbeing of millions of people.  

Let’s imagine what the conversation will be like post-COVID-19 mania. How can policy makers and leaders throughout our country not allow for an industry to be available to the public and legitimized at a federal level, when it is determined to be essential to life during a crisis such as this?  The government will have a need to make up for its unexpected, significant loss of tax revenues. Major resource allocators will have a need to generate returns from alternatives while traditional asset classes are less stable than previously predicted. So many great American and world-renowned businesses are experiencing mandatory shutdowns, yet this medicine will continue to find its way into human daily life. 

Cannabis is an industry that has consistently achieved a compounding annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 30%, resulting in more than $16B of revenue in 2019. Almost none of which was generated at a location where buyers can purchase and consume publicly. The products are meant to be consumed in small gatherings or privately, as this is the way in which the rules are currently written. But this will inevitably change.

Challenge yourself to ask people in your life about cannabinoid-based products and their reasons for using them. Someone’s grandmother using CBD topicals for pain, an uncle who has trouble sleeping taking nighttime tinctures, a young child with epilepsy, a friend overcoming social disorders, or a father simply using flower—instead of alcohol—to relax. You may be surprised at the number of everyday people safely using plant medicine to increase the overall quality of their lives.

We need to look at how we deal with life mentally during times of high stress. Think back to all the things we have read or watched that detail life during a crisis. How often do you remember alcohol and tobacco playing a role? Of course, we see this in every war documentary or Hollywood movie depicting what life was like during those times. We would argue those products did nothing to help people physically or emotionally. In fact, short-term-satisfaction consumer habits probably made it that much harder for people to get back into a high-quality lifestyle after a crisis has ended. What if in this crisis, we can consume products to help us stay present, connected, and mindful? Whether it be for sleep, anxiety, pain, epilepsy, cancer, depression, or countless other “every day” human issues we deal with, there is a cannabinoid-based product out there for you. Might we be encouraged to look closer at this natural wonder which has been in use for tens of thousands of years all around the world?

Be open to trying something different during your reassessment of what is important. Re-evaluate how you are nourishing your mind and body during life’s journey. Let’s protect each other and encourage a healthier lifestyle before we emerge from the other side of this pandemic. 

Balance is something many of us talk about, but is it truly, holistically achieved?  Sure, we want balance in our schedules, our relationships, our habits, but what about internal balance? The molecular homeostasis that our bodies are constantly trying to achieve every minute of our lives is oftentimes overlooked. This pandemic is a rare chance to reset yourself, your life, and your priorities. If cannabis- and hemp-related products are making countless lives better, why shouldn’t we fight to ensure that as many people as possible can chose a higher quality alternative to what life has offered before? 

For once we all have a common enemy. Now is the time for us to take care of our home. The earth is everyone’s home equally, a home that has been sick for all too long. Now is our chance to reconnect and ensure that the global home, as well as our individual homes, are built with a solid foundation, on rock. Crisis in life is inevitable, let’s make sure we are prepared. Choose to be stronger together, protect one another. Let’s leave behind the persecution of nature and emerge with a new perspective.