First, there was the New Green Rush. In the early days of coronavirus panic buying last month, cannabis dispensaries in Santa Cruz County and around the country were doing brisk business. Then the rush dried up, and dispensaries found themselves staring down the same bleak economic realities that so many businesses are right now.
The crazy thing is that the mainstream media’s message hasn’t changed with that new reality. They’re still reporting on long lines outside dispensaries, even though those lines are now due to social distancing rather than record sales, says Colin Disheroon, president and CEO of Santa Cruz Naturals.
“Here’s what I saw, and I think most of my colleagues would agree: There was a panic buy, a big rush. People were freaking out and bought a bunch. Then that calmed down, and our sales declined pretty dramatically,” Disheroon says. “Media has been pumping it up that dispensaries are crushing it, but all dispensary operators are saying the same thing: Sales are down 20% at least. And the lines out the door are because people have to have six-feet separation.”
There were a number of factors that led to the shift in dispensaries’ fortunes, he says.
“People were stocked up, that was part of it. People were also getting real about, ‘I’m not going out.’ And people who can’t figure out online ordering are frustrated. So there’s kind of this triple whammy going on,” Disheroon says.
Changing how they operate—in the case of Santa Cruz Naturals, going from less than 5% online sales to more than 90% online sales—has been just one of many challenges in a month that also saw shifting orders from