A report released from Leafly, a Seattle-based cannabis education and retail cannabis information provider, showed that Washington state made $1.42 billion in cannabis sales in 2020.
“[COVID-19] was great for cannabis, you realize that, right? Like there was a 30% increase,” Danielle Rosellison, the CEO of Bellingham-based cannabis grower Trail Blazin’ Productions, said.
Leafly’s report stated those who were already established cannabis consumers increased their average monthly spending on weed by 33%.
New medical marijuana patients and adult recreational consumers were mentioned as a potential factor in the increased spending on cannabis products that Leafly reported. Pandemic conditions like increasing anxiety levels and few leisure spending options were also mentioned as contributors into what Leafly called the “cannabis boom of 2020.”
“You know when recessions happen, people still buy booze, they still buy makeup, they still buy chocolate and they still buy weed,” Rosellison said.
Statistics from 502 Data showed that consumer purchases of cannabis in Whatcom County totaled around $4.9 million for the month of February 2021 — the most recent month available on their dashboard when viewing sales by county.
In comparison, the data from 502 Solutions showed cannabis retailer sales for Whatcom County were at around $4 million in April 2020.
For Ben Peck, the director of technical services at 2020 Cannabis Solutions, COVID-19 brought on an increased demand for the product and a continuing spike in online orders. Peck said he was pleased the demand for cannabis remained high.
“COVID-19 has meant we do business differently,” Peck said in an email. “Being able to interact with guests is challenging.”
Peck said he was proud of the budtenders at both 2020 Cannabis Solutions locations for their work with the general public throughout the pandemic.
“They truly have been resilient as they continue to do a very tough job,” Peck said in an email. “They continue to put our guests first.”
Parker Zapata, a third-year student at Western, shared her experience as a budtender at Trove Cannabis. Having worked in the cannabis industry since July 2020, Zapata said she had not experienced a non-COVID day. She said she was hopeful that as more people got vaccinated, Trove’s customer capacity would go up and the shop would see more business.
One of Zapata’s main duties as a budtender involves finding strains and products that work well for each customer.
This on-the-job consumer education is something both Peck and Rosellison mentioned as an emerging upward trend in Bellingham’s cannabis industry.
“Every day we see signs that the cannabis industry is becoming more accepted and part of the mainstream,” Peck said in an email.
Rosellison shared that while presenting at a business conference, she asked the attendees if they knew someone who had benefited from cannabis usage. Every person there raised a hand.
“One hundred percent of the hands went up,” Rosellison said. “And what was cool about that was they all knew somebody that had been helped by cannabis and more importantly, they were willing to share that in a business environment. That wouldn't have happened in 2012.”
EDIT: The name of the business 502 Data has been corrected from 502 Solutions since the publication date.
Joslin Keim is a third-year PR journalism major and a city life writer for The Front. Joslin’s writing focuses on the arts in and around Bellingham. Contact Joslin at firstname.lastname@example.org or @joslinkeim on Twitter.