The COVID-19 pandemic prompted immediate change across the cannabis community and its trends. It remains to be seen if any temporary changes become permanent fixtures. That said, we can mitigate the level of conjecture being bandied about by assessing the ongoing shifting landscape and shaping trend predictions accordingly.
Dispensaries Change Entire Operation
Serving the public its dose of cannabis, and the tax dollars it generates for states, were too vital to shutdown as COVID-19 spread. As such, much of the market became “essential.”
To stay open, dispensaries no longer focused on the in-store experience. Instead, delivery and curbside became the norm, with a strict adherence to social distancing in place. Lawmakers temporarily changed regulations to allow businesses to provide such service to customers and to protect their employees.
It remains to be seen if any states embrace delivery and curbside pickup rules in a post-coronavirus scenario.
In the meantime, dispensaries across the country use this time to educate customers and patients about the changes, regardless if they are temporary or permanent. Carson Shipley, media coordinator at Seattle’s (Lux) Pot Shop, told Green Flower that their store strives to be a source of education and advice.
Everyday Cannabis Community Practices Cautioned
Whether picking up at a legal dispensary or from an illicit operation with their own COVID-19 procedures, the customer should take additional precautions with their supply. Like other packages coming into the home, consumers may want to consider recommended steps to disinfect packages before bringing them inside.
A more glaring change to the community is its emphasis on sharing. The once tried and true practice is certainly not happening like it did before the stay-at-home orders took effect. While the cleanliness of the practice had long-been the elephant in the cannabis community’s room, few spoke up about it. That has changed, to say the least. Now, consumers are urged to avoid passing joints or any other method of consumption involving sharing.
(Lux)’s Shipley discussed the types of caution people should exercise. The media coordinator said that the company recommends a sanitation system when consuming in groups. Shipley said tools, such as alcohol pads for glass pipes, are ideal, as are mini joint bubblers that cost only a few dollars. Shipley said of the products aimed at keeping mouths off the joint, “Just make sure each [person] has their own.”
Shipley said that employing a bit of cannabis community etiquette is never a bad idea. Fortunately, the transition from pre-coronavirus to current and future trends shouldn’t be hard for most. “Many of us used these practices everyday before any sort of virus.”
That said, communal sharing of any kind should be cautioned at this time. Online cannabis cultivation website Dr. Cannabis Founder, Santiago Pardo, is based in Uruguay. He explained how police handled a public consumption situation and the desire to consume as a community. Pardo told Green Flower that despite the legal plant being largely accepted in the country, authorities in the capital of Montevideo have not tolerated the practice during the pandemic.
Pardo explained, “In the first days of quarantine…a patrol faced three kids who were together in the streets violating social distancing and smoking. When facing police questioning, one [of the kids] justified, ‘I went out on the street because I don’t like to smoke alone.’”
Customer Product Preferences Shift
Some in the community frowned upon smoking cannabis as early reports suggested that smoking could increase the chances of contracting the virus. The findings led to an uptick in interest for alternative consumption methods. Items, namely edibles, presented viable alternatives for those seeking their dosage without wanting to put their lungs at any potential risk.
David Rogers, communications director for the brand Royal CBD, highlighted the opportunity edibles present people during the quarantine. “With the extra time on their hands, people are in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes for brownies, cookies, dried fruit, gummies, and teas,” he explained.
Cannabis Goes (Even More) Digital
One of the more noticeable shifts occurred in the digital space. From 4/20 to everyday smoke sessions, people are heading online to connect during their time stuck at home. The digital shift doesn’t replace the feeling of being close to one’s community, but the experience seems to fill the social void to a degree.
Dr. Cannabis’ Pardo explained that just a few months ago, no one would have forecasted that this would be the outcome of the high holiday. While unexpected, the online publication owner believed the experience wasn’t all that much different. “In the end, it is still the same 4/20,” he said, while acknowledging the lack of community this year.
Possible Next Steps
Substantial changes underway lead some to believe that long-time cannabis community trends could go away.
Dr. Cannabis’ Pardo said certain consumption practices could change. However, his concern was with the authorities. “Those countries where marijuana is not socially accepted by the police and authorities, people are going to need to be careful taking their stash out of their homes,” said Pardo. He explained that present and future police checks may alter how people carry their cannabis. “Police controls are very common right now in various cities all over the world, so you wouldn’t want to expose yourself.”
Aside from the mentioned possible worries, most respondents seem to believe that consumption practices will return to some normalcy in time. When they do, (Lux)’s Shipley suggested a further reliance on community etiquette standards. Others, like Michael Bologna, CEO of Dip Devices, sees standard practices shifting away from sharing.
Bologna, who also mentioned a possible decline in flower sales, said, “While people may still consume in a circle, they will likely prefer their own personal consumption devices.” He added, Cannabis will always bring people together, but it may not be via shared consumption.”
Even if the prediction comes to fruition, the cannabis community’s adaptability could create new trends for the modern world. Without delving into specifics, Sammy Dorf, Co-founder and CEO of Verano Holdings, told Green Flower, “People will discover new ways to enjoy cannabis and company, without compromising health or comfort.”