Consumers Reach For Cannabis To Calm Anxiety As COVID-19 Outbreak Continues
Jangled nerves about an uncertain future have led people in Oklahoma - and around the country - to use medical marijuana as a balm for anxiety.
People across the country have driven medical marijuana sales up as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold. And it’s not limited to large cities and states with recreational sales, but demand is also found in small towns where people can only get medical marijuana.
Officials in Oklahoma, where voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, decided to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to remain open in a statewide order that shut most businesses. Cannabis has gone from illegal to essential in less than two years in Oklahoma. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven that point home like nothing else could.
“The last two weeks have been pretty crazy,” dispensary owner Brad Peixotto told KJRH, the NBC affiliate in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Scared and anxious residents look for help through cannabis.
Peixotto owns World of Weed in Collinsville. According to KJRH, the empty streets of Collinsville make it look like “a ghost town” since the state issued orders to close all non-essential businesses in March. Collinsville, just north of Tulsa, has a population of about 6,900.
Peixotto says, “we’ve got about a 30 percent increase in our traffic lately.” He said most customers coming to his dispensary are newcomers. “I’ve had more questions lately about what’s good for anxiety than I ever had before,” says Peixotto.
Asked what he attributes the increase to, Peixotto says: “People are just scared. They’re scared of the unknown. And a lot of those people are coming into the dispensaries and they’re picking up their essential items”
Medical marijuana sales spike across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a spike in sales from coast to coast. In California, dispensaries saw a 159% increase in a single day. “It's not about getting high, it's about being well," one dispensary owner told ABC News.
In Florida, where 25 percent of the population is a senior citizen, there are 327,000 medical marijuana cardholders. Sales of medical marijuana have jumped 40 percent, according to state numbers.
Colorado-based BDS Analytics reported that just between March 13 and March 16, sales of all cannabis increased by 28%. Consumers drive much of the increase through the purchase of flower, although edibles also are in demand, according to BDS, a marketing firm that specializes in the cannabis industry.
As for why people are buying, BDS reported that customers ranked these reasons at the top:
- Managing pain
- Relaxing or “being mellow”
- Managing anxiety
- Sleeping better
Those reasons match what Peixotto reported seeing at his dispensary in Collinsville. He also doesn’t expect this trend to end anytime soon, saying: “I think this is going to have a very long-lasting impact in our community.”