Some Cannabis Businesses Are Hurting With Nowhere to Turn

Despite the rush on weed stores at the start of the pandemic, not all cannabis retailers have seen a benefit. And, without federal help, those businesses that are hurting have few places to turn.

After San Francisco announced its stay-at-home orders, members of the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance saw an immediate 50% decline in sales. That’s what the group’s president John Delaplane told KQED. Today, sales are still down about 30%. 

Claudia L. Mercado, founder and CEO of Oakland cannabis micro-business Calibueno, also fell on hard times. She actually began applying for federal assistance before she realized doing so could land her in prison.

“Black and Latino businesses period, small businesses, are not going to get help. Throw cannabis in the mix and we're probably last in line,” she said.

Advocates want to see the state step in — not just with assistance, but also with relief. The state’s high cannabis tax burden has already encouraged the black market and some fear things are about to get worse.

But just as COVID19 could divert attention from enforcement, it’s already diverting attention from cannabis reform. Legislative items that were set to be considered have been sidelined as Sacramento focuses almost exclusively on the pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused.

Help for the industry will hopefully come. But it’s going to have to wait.