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A follow up on Covid-19 and the Cannabis industry

Maine has always taken its time catching up with current trends. In part due to geography, economics, and population we tend to lag behind others. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic we are inevitably weeks away from entering into its peak. The buffer is buying us time. A valuable commodity. If used efficiently and effectively this time can give us a better chance of survival within communities and as an industry.

First, let me applaud the efforts of most storefronts for the necessary, on-the-fly, continuous adjustments introduced for the safety of patients and employees. Implementing obsessive cleaning routines, limiting the number of patients, and offering curbside and/or delivery options are becoming newly adopted yet now widespread policies. Making exceptions to these rules jeopardizes potentially hundreds of people on any given business day.

Prior to Covid-19, forecasting who would thrive in the Industry was based on marketability, quality, sustainability (in terms of growth), and fostered relations. Those are the necessary ingredients to any good small business / team and there are hundreds already operating in Maine. The preparations made to accommodate Municipal or State regulations were being met; the financials were in order; and the possibility of entering into adult-use was only months away.

But the world changed in the blink of an eye.

Everything you hoped to accomplish in 2020 now seems secondary. Health of loved ones, your team, employees, and the patients has become the primary focus. We have adapted in the blink of an eye, however, whether we have done enough in this short period of time remains to be seen. Uncertainty exists, making everyone wonder and stress over how the economics of cannabis will react.

Gaining an ‘Essential’ tag in the eyes of the State has offered us the opportunity to continue working, to continue generating revenue when other businesses such as retail or restaurants, some being synonymous with our cities’ culture have been closed or are absorbing huge drops in their weekly sales. My concerns are for what our landscape will look like post- “first wave”. As of today March 30th, we have 250+ known cases in Maine. In a week that number could become 1000. What if we are asked to shelter in place for 2 or 4 weeks? Or 2 months?

Let us assume 2 more months. Although that seems ambitious and perhaps a bit careless, during that time a cultivator will have harvested once, or twice based on typical models of operation. However, the patient-base, and all consumers, will be looking to start working again. To dig out of their own financial hole. To find jobs. To budget for car payments, mortgages, rents, loans, etc. While Cannabis is a necessary medicine for many, it is also used recreationally at an equal or higher percentage than that of patients. We will maintain patronage, but it won’t be nearly at the same clip as we have become accustomed to in the last year. And it’s not like other markets won’t be experiencing the same lag in sales as we will.

A surplus is sure to come. It may last for a harvest cycle. It may last for two. How are we preparing for that potential? Will you choose to ‘sit’ on product? Is that even an option? Will you choose to sell at lower numbers than usual? Will you engage in consignment?

All of these decisions have the capabilities of having long-term positive or negative influences on the survival of every facet of the industry. Dialogue and a collective plan for the future of Maine Craft Cannabis is not about getting everyone collectively to agree on the same solutions, but rather; to identify that we are only weeks away from needing answers.

So let's start talking.

- Kerry

Maine Potcast Host & Founder

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