Cannabis and Coronavirus: Sales Surge as the Industry Carries On

Image: wan wei /

NATIONWIDE – Five months of pandemic restrictions has resulted in what seems to be strong sales growth in the cannabis industry, in both medical and recreational markets. Some speculate this may be due to continuing “safer at home” protocols for non-essential workers who have more free time as they work from home.

It also may be fair to speculate—after months of quarantine restrictions and social distancing—increases in cannabis sales could partially be driven by consumers experiencing pandemic-related stress or anxiety.


In California, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) announced the state took in more than $208 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales, in the last quarter.

“Total tax revenue reported by the cannabis industry is $208.4 million for [second] Quarter returns due by July 31, 2020. This does not include tax revenue collected by each jurisdiction. Previously reported revenue for [first] Quarter 2020 returns was revised to $205.9 million, which included $107.4 million in cannabis excise tax, $26.9 million in cultivation tax, and $71.6 million in sales tax. Revisions to quarterly data are the result of amended and late returns, and other tax return adjustments,” CDTFA said.

In Pennsylvania, medical and recreational sales have increased steadily over the past six months. According to statistics released last week by the state’s Department of Health, adult-use sales since February have exceeded the total sales volume of the previous two years combined. The number of medical patients visiting dispensaries also has increased by more than 70 percent, resulting in sales of about $385 million. Medical sales over the previous two years totaled only about $400 million.

“The [Pennsylvania] program is doing really well,” said Terrapin Care Station Chief Executive Officer Chris Woods. “It’s hard not to draw a correlation with COVID-19. In unsettled times, cannabis is a medicine that seems to help people cope with anxiety.”

Trade shows and conventions have been virtually eliminated by concerns over large public gatherings during the pandemic, not only in the cannabis industry but in industries across the board.

Originally scheduled for September 2020, Indo Expo rescheduled its Chicago event to September 2021. “Big and small businesses alike are struggling to navigate these challenging conditions—and we’re right there with you,” the company said. “We know bringing the cannabis community together, in support, will be what helps our industry overcome the odds.”

WEEDCon West is scheduled to be held next month, and will attempt to lead the way in post-pandemic live events with its second annual business-to-business conference.

“The outdoor, invite-only event will observe a strict social distancing protocol designed by the WEEDCon Safety and Compliance Team including UV sanitation, HEPA air filtration systems in the restrooms, one-way aisles, temperature taking, and a trained COVID-19 specialist onsite,” event organizers said.

“In these difficult times, it is essential that WEEDCon provides this service to our dispensary buyers,” WEEDCon President Petrie Alexandra Williams said. “Online events just don’t do the trick for cannabis—we need to see, taste and try the product—it’s essential.” The show is scheduled for September 24–25, at a private location in Hollywood, California.

Around the world, researchers continue to search for treatments and, ultimately, a vaccine for COVID-19. Cannabis pharmaceutical companies, especially in Israel and Canada, also are involved in the race to discover treatment therapies. One focal point for research has been Cannabidiol, the plant compound better known as CBD. Clinical studies and trials have indicated CBD-based medications, with their potent anti-inflammatory properties, could be used to treat “cytokine storm,” a syndrome of the immune system that often complicates advanced coronavirus cases.

Canadian cannabis pharmaceutical company Tetra Bio-Pharma recently contracted with Dalton Pharma Services to produce batches of its HU-308 and ARDS-003, which could help to treat severe cytokine reactions.

HU-308 is “a synthetic small molecule new chemical entity, which specifically targets the human CB2 receptors and has the potential to be a new anti-inflammatory drug.” ARDS-003 is a sterile, intravenous finished drug product.

“Dalton is pleased to be working with Tetra on this important new drug to potentially treat cytokine release syndromes. Dalton will play an important role in the development of this innovative drug and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with Tetra,” said Dalton Pharma Services Chief Executive Officer Peter Pekos.

Tetra Bio-Pharma Chief Executive Officer Dr. Guy Chamberland added, “We are very pleased to be working with Dalton on this high priority project to bring ARDS-003 into clinical trials. This partnership was ideal for Tetra as Dalton recognized the urgency and proposed a plan that aligns with our corporate objective to bring this investigational drug into clinical trials as soon as possible.

“More importantly, this plan ensured that all aspects of the regulatory requirements and GMP compliance were respected. As a pharmaceutical company, the progress achieved at this point, and within such an accelerated time frame is significant in that we can now attest that ARDS-003 conforms to the standard quality and compatibility requirements of other injectable prescription drugs for human use,” Dr. Chamberland said.

Ottawa-based Tetra Bio-Pharma is a bio-pharmaceutical leader with a Health Canada-approved and U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical program that develops cannabis-based novel prescription drugs and treatments.