Expiration of unemployment benefits hasn’t dented adult-use cannabis sales revenue

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Will cannabis stimulus funding be granted to businesses operating in this controversial sector?

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

When the United States Government announced that it would be stopping coronavirus-related stimulus payments for Americans, the cannabis industry shuddered with worry of sales being impacted. However, the aftermath has not proven to be so destructive after all. This is based on recent sales figures for the U.S. cannabis market, which have demonstrated resilience among key markets.

Prior to the termination of coronavirus-related stimulus payments on July 31, the unemployed people of America were provided with a $600 pay packet every week. Unfortunately for the recipients of these federally-funded payments, Congress has not approved an extension.

With the coronavirus pandemic putting the breaks on the U.S. economy, unemployment rates have soared. This meant that a financial safety net was essential to help the general public to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Now that those payments have stopped, affording basic needs could be a struggle.

On the plus side, Seattle-based data firm Headset has confirmed that sales of recreational cannabis in well-established markets remained fertile during the initial weeks since benefits were scrapped.

Why have cannabis sales held up since coronavirus-related payments ended?

The director of analytics for Headset, Liz Connors, says that “it is still very early after the expiration” to understand precisely why cannabis sales in the U.S. have held up so well amid COVID-19. Connors likened the cannabis industry to the alcohol industry, which she says represents similar cycles of growth during times of economic glut. 

“Consumer spending doesn’t often drastically shift overnight but, rather, gradually changes over a few months,” said Connors. On that note, there’s a good chance that consumers are considering cannabis to be a necessity; a crutch; a product that doesn’t lose its value in distressing times.

Aside from the fact that consumers appear to be reliant on cannabis as a commodity amid COVID-19, analysts also predict a monumental transference of consumer preference in the direction of the medical cannabis market. The reason for this being that the medical market doesn’t glean the hefty taxes that the recreational market does. 

Conversely, registration for medical cannabis is a woe for many and thus pushes consumers to seek out recreational avenues; retail options that do not require a doctor-approved card. Moreover, with COVID-19 forcing many people to entertain themselves from home, cannabis is emerging as a welcome addition to people’s discretionary activities.

Legislators want a coronavirus relief package to be voted on

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently urged the U.S. House of Representatives to deal with other issues. However, numerous legislators are trying to initiate a vote that would develop a fresh coronavirus relief package; inclusive of additional unemployment benefits.

Meanwhile, new cannabis payment options are emerging, thus providing consumers with a simplified method of buying their goods. By eliminating the need for face-to-face interactions through the use of safe checkout products, both consumers and dispensaries can engage in convenient transactions.