The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy. In early March, most states issued lockdown orders to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, and this involved all but the most essential businesses to shut down. This has led to Great Depression-era levels of unemployment, and most industries, especially the travel and service industries, have a long road of recovery ahead of them. However, one industry that seems to have weathered the storm fairly well for the past few months is cannabis.

Most states that legalized marijuana declared the industry essential and pot dispensaries have been operational during the lockdown. Illinois’ first cannabis stores opened in January and in June, marijuana retailers saw their busiest month ever. According to data released on Tuesday, recreational cannabis sales in June shattered existing records, with retailers selling 994,545 cannabis items and bringing in more than $47.6 million in total sales. In-state residents brought in $35.3 million while out of state visitors brought in $12.4 million.

On the first day of legal cannabis sales, customers bought more than $3.1 million worth of products but the following months, especially March and April, were quite slow. However, things picked up in May, and cannabis retailers in the state enjoyed record sales, followed by record-breaking sales in June. Since Illinois launched its cannabis program in January, it has consistently brought in tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales. State policy dictates that 35% of that money goes to the state’s general fund, 25% to aid communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, 20% to substance use treatment and mental health programs, and 10% towards the state’s bill backlog.

Oregon has also enjoyed record cannabis sales despite the coronavirus pandemic, beginning with a spike in sales during the weeks leading up to lockdown in March. The state then saw record-high sales in April, especially on April 20, the unofficial holiday for cannabis lovers. However, analysts predict the boom in sales will continue but taper off as the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis finally takes hold. “Expectations are that some of these increases are due to temporary factors like the one-time household recovery rebates, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, and the shelter in place style policies,” said Oregon’s office of Economic Analysis in a May report.

“As the impact of these programs fades in the months ahead, and bars and restaurants reopen to a larger degree, marijuana sales are expected to mellow.”

Nevertheless, the entire cannabis industry, including companies like Pure Extracts Corp., is glad that several states are reaping the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana given the huge battering that the COVID-19 pandemic has visited upon economies around the world.

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