March revenue accounts for 40 percent of Arkansas’ first-year medical cannabis sales

March+revenue+accounts+for+40+percent+of+Arkansas%27+first-year+medical+cannabis+sales

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been the most devastating “global pandemic” in more than a century. Its effects have been felt harshly across the United States, among hundreds of other countries and territories worldwide. Although there’s been a significant dark side to the pandemic – which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and hospitalized millions globally – the medical cannabis industry in Arkansas is seeing the light.

The aftermath of pandemics that proliferate on as large a scale as COVID-19 will undoubtedly create an economic glut. Lawmakers in Arkansas were clearly looking to the future when they made the bold decision to keep dispensaries open throughout the pandemic; and it looks as though their decision has paid off. 

Since March 1, when the virus really infiltrated mainstream society and media, sales of medical cannabis in Arkansas have gone through the roof. On Tuesday, May 12, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reported that total sales of medical cannabis in Arkansas had just surpassed $75 million.

Kattie Hansen, the CEO of a Hensley-based store called “Native Green Wellness”, is a firm believer that the continued sales of medical cannabis in Arkansas will have a positive influence on patients who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“The pandemic that we are living through causes those without stress disorders to panic and have increased anxiety, so I can’t even imagine what the added stress and anxiety does to our patients,” she told reporters. “The increase in sales throughout our state is in direct relation to people trying to cope, trying to get off of opiates and alcohol and make it through this uncertain time the best that they can.”

COVID-19 is boosting sales of medical cannabis in Arkansas

The recorded revenue – which is the entire amount since dispensary sales began in February 2019 – came from transactions totaling 12,000 pounds of cannabis. Of the $75 million in medical cannabis sales revenue, approximately 40 percent was accrued since the first day of March — an impressive $29.92 million worth of products were sold by the state’s licensed dispensaries over the past two-and-a-half months.

“To put this in perspective, it’s been one year since the first dispensary opened in May 2019 and 40 percent of total sales for the year have taken place since March 1,” confirmed Scott Hardin, who assumes the role of Director of Communications at the Administration — responsible for overseeing sales data and tax collections.

“We anticipate the significant increase in sales over the last two months is directly related to COVID-19. When the CDC recommended citizens maintain at least a two week supply of prescription medication, it looks like medical cannabis patients in Arkansas took action on that guidance beginning in mid-March,” Hardin said.

He added how, at first, sales growth in Arkansas’ medical cannabis industry amid COVID-19 was assumed to be a “one-time spike.” However, Hardin asserted that strong sales have been maintained. 

Medical cannabis patients in Arkansas have been purchasing maximum amount

According to Hardin, numerous medical cannabis dispensaries in Arkansas have reported consistent sales in recent times. Not only has revenue been rolling in consistently but also, the maximum patient purchases have been met by the vast majority of buyers. In Arkansas, the maximum purchase amount is 2.5 ounces over a 14-day period.

Hardin says that – based on the medical cannabis purchase limit in Arkansas and the fact that price averages are less than $400 an ounce – over $1,000 is likely being pulled in every two weeks by registered patients. The director claims that sales could “exceed $100 million” when 11 new dispensaries join the 22 dispensaries currently operating statewide.

Based on the opinion of Aaron Crawley, owner and CFO of Bentonville-based cannabis dispensary ‘The Source’, the recent surge in Arkansas’ medical cannabis sales is undoubtedly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. He told reporters that the dispensary has experienced “a very significant spike in business since the advent of COVID-19 in Arkansas.”

“Due to high demand and adherence to social distancing requirements, we’ve switched exclusively to online ordering and allow a maximum of three individuals in the lobby at a time. Higher demand inevitably leads to longer wait times so we often have more than three people coming to pick up their orders at once,” said Crawley. “To accommodate this high volume of guests safely, we have them check-in with their name and wait in their cars until their order is ready. Even so, the majority of our guests are simply grateful that we’re open.”

His business, along with the many other actively-operating cannabis dispensaries in Arkansas, have been serving patients on a daily basis amid the crisis. Furthermore, customers are being educated on the benefits of using cannabis remedies as an option during this stressful period, suggesting that COVID-19 could have a lasting effect on the compassionate care program across Arkansas.