Pandemic fuels pot-buying explosion

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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.

“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 2020 compared to $3,236,580 in May 2019.

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

Josephine County saw a 69% spike in May compared to May 2019, posting $1,810,946 in cannabis sales. In April, Josephine County posted record sales of $1,480,360 compared to $956,427 last year, and $1,287,896 in March compared to $931,452 in the same month last year.
Statewide, March was a record month, with cannabis sales of $84.5 million, breaking the previous record of $79.4 million set in August 2019, according to OLCC.

The March record fell in April, when Oregon consumers bought $89.5 million worth of cannabis products. The record fell again in May when cannabis sales hit $103 million. As of this writing, June was looking like another banner month.

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 has 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,” he said.

“We’ve seen an up-tick in cannabis sales since the pandemic took effect,” said Clay Bearnson, co-owner of The Oregon Farmacy in downtown Medford. “Sales are at premarket saturation levels.”

Oregon isn’t alone when it comes to record-setting pot sales during the pandemic. Sales records have been falling with regularity innumerous states, including California, Washington, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico, according to news reports.

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

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