The COVID-19 lockdown in Canada has led to a spike in cannabis panic-buying, while Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced a plan to combat illegal online sales.
While much of the world may be facing a COVID-19 shutdown that threatens jobs and causes unemployment to skyrocket, reports from the global cannabis industry confirm that business is booming.
The Ontario Cannabis Store has become the latest cannabis retailer to receive a massive boost from coronavirus-related panic buying—echoing similar trends seen in US states such as Washington, California and Nevada—after receiving almost 3,000 orders on a single day, representing an 80% increase on "an average Sunday".
The cannabis industry is showing itself to be recession-proof but at times like this, it's important to understand that the spike in consumer demand is probably not going to last long.Siva Enterprises CEO, Avis Bulbulyan
The news comes after the Canadian government confirmed that licensed cannabis retailers will remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown, as they have been deemed "essential" services".
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario will also remain open during this time, after informing the public that it has "cleaning and sanitation protocols in our stores and warehouses and have increased prevention awareness amongst our staff."
According to a spokesperson for the Ontario Cannabis Store, Daffyd Roderick, the marijuana retailer has been experiencing an, "increase in the volume in sales on OCS.ca and a high demand for same-day and next-day delivery".
This was also echoed by the CEO of Bhang Inc, Jamie Pearson, who confirmed that sales of its cannabis-infused chocolates and beverages were climbing at an extraordinary rate, which should significantly boost revenue during the coming quarter.
This rapid increase in sales should provide welcome relief for certain sectors of the cannabis industry that have been struggling amidst a capital crunch and the ongoing economic fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Canadian Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, also announced that the government will launch an action plan to prevent illegal online cannabis sales.
"Just as the legal supply of recreational cannabis is becoming more firmly established, the internet has evolved into a distribution channel for the illicit sale of drugs," Blair's briefing stated.
"[Public Safety Canada] is working with federal, provincial and territorial partners to develop an action plan to disrupt online illicit cannabis sales."
However, thus far Blair's action plan has provided no explanation to how this will be achieved, although it does concede that it will "take time to achieve" a successful reduction in the size of Canada's illegal cannabis market.
"We're talking about using enforcement, again, as the hammer that has never worked on this nail," cannabis industry consultant Jamie Shaw said.
"The smart thing to have done would have been to license brick-and-mortar stores, existing brick-and-mortar stores, license existing growers, and get them moving through the regulated system."
"By not doing that, you're trying to close your hand around water – you're not ever going to actually get a handle on it."
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