Jackson County pot sales rocket to new heights

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Jackson County Pot Sales
Ashland Breeze Botanicals manager Sam Schuh prepares an order of cannabis flower. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune

Sales of cannabis punched through the stratosphere in May, soaring 55% over last May and eclipsing April’s banner month in Jackson County, based on data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

“I definitely think that we’ve had a lot of people who have come in kind of stressed out and need to relax,” said C.J. Butler, budtender at Emerald Triangle Dispensary in Medford. “Everybody seems to have been very inquisitive lately, looking for a way to chill out.”

Butler said many customers have expressed interest in the health benefits of cannabis, particularly focusing on edibles. Many customers are looking for help sleeping and other ailments, he said.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has seen a surge in cannabis sales since the pandemic walloped the economy in March and forced many to stay at home.

According to OLCC, Jackson County saw $5,039,963 in sales of recreational and medical cannabis in May compared to $3,236,580 last May.

April was another record month with $4,259,465.

Josephine County saw a 69% spike in May compared to May 2019, posting $1,810,946 in cannabis sales.

Statewide, cannabis sales hit a record $103 million in May, toppling the previous high of $89.5 million in April.

In March, the third-highest month ever recorded in the state, cannabis sales in Oregon hit $84.5 million.

The previous record of $79.4 million was set in August 2019, according to OLCC.

OLCC has also seen increased alcohol sales at bars and restaurants.

In April, when the shutdown was in full swing, alcohol sales at bars and restaurants were almost nonexistent at $88,212, compared to $57,915,189.07 in sales at stores for home consumption.

In May, bars and restaurants sold $1,850,276, an almost 2000% increase over April.

Still the May sales in bars and restaurants represent an almost 90% decrease from the same month last year.

On the other hand, consumer spending for alcohol bought at stores continued to accelerate in May to $63,205,131.22, a 45% increase over May 2019 when sales were $43,461,241.93.

Overall sales of alcohol, including at stores as well as restaurants and bars, increased 13.47% this May compared to last May. April, year over year, saw an almost 11% increase.

OLCC wasn’t able to provide county-specific data on alcohol sales.

Preston Massey, manager of Grateful Meds in Talent, said sales are up 350% this year over last, and up 75% quarter over quarter this year.

He said customers are consuming more products than usual, which he attributes to Oregonians having to deal with the recession as well as the pandemic.

Massey also noticed more Californians hanging out up here because this area’s economy is more open than theirs back home, and the cannabis products are cheaper.

“I would say all sales all across the spectrum have heated up, but bud is still king, while established edible brands like Kotton Mouth, gummies and the Chocowana Bar are impossible to keep in stock,” Massey said.

Another interesting twist is that some customers have been complaining about toothaches, buying Rick Simpson Oil to put on their gums to relieve the pain, Massey said.

“Quite honestly, considering all that is going on, we are all blessed to be able to have access to quality marijuana products at affordable prices to weather the pandemic and economic crisis,” Massey said.

Ryan Vanderpool, a manager at Fireside Dispensary in Phoenix, said he’s definitely noticed an uptick in sales.

“Honestly it’s kind of crazy, especially once the unemployment benefits really kicked in.”

Vanderpool said people who couldn’t consume cannabis because of their former job now don’t have to worry about getting tested.

Buying habits have also changed.

Instead of Fridays being the peak day for sales, Vanderpool has noticed the big days are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as people stock up for the week.

Also, the price of edibles has come down drastically in the past two years, with 50 milligrams of THC in a chocolate or gummy costing around $10 or less. Two years ago, a similar product would have cost up to $30.

June has already been a good month as well, Vanderpool said.

“Every time we think it’s going to slow down, we have another busy day like Monday,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

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