Reopening and Prepping the Cannabis Industry

by | May 26, 2020

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

The time of prophets is long past; however, crises similar to COVID-19 are likely to crop up in the future. Luckily, many governments declared cannabis an essential industry, and the business was naturally adapted to social distancing, but what are the strengths that make the cannabis industry so resilient in times of panic? What would be a successful reopening, and how can we plan for events like this in the future?

Reopening Relies on Online Interfaces and Conscientiousness

Normal is over. That’s an idea floating around now, and it’s likely correct. When the world reopens, things aren’t going to look the same. Several businesses will be closed forever. New regulations will be in place, and everyone will have to adapt to an altered way of life. Reopening won’t be smooth. 

For cannabis, the rising stars of a post reopening industry will be in some part the same stars keeping it lit today. Online ordering, including delivery and curbside pickup, is up to code with the demands of social distancing. Some dispensaries go as far as to use poles to ensure a genuinely no-contact experience. Through methods like these, 4/20/2020 remained one of the most important days for sales within the cannabis world.

As the insides of stores reopen and foot traffic returns, new standards will be upheld. While the industry has always had a strong emphasis on sterilization, it will be at the forefront of the culture. Some cannabis companies have already gotten involved with contributing hand sanitizer and other needed supplies. 

Luckily, with growing testing requirements being the norm, the cannabis industry is prepped to deliver verified and sterile products. The world of operating after reopening won’t be a complete shock to the culture but expect fewer frills and more required distance. 

Yet a shock to the larger world will inevitably trickle into the industry. Economically and socially, we’re all connected. As people are slow to take off their masks or go outside, delivery and curbside pickup will continue to be popular options for as long as they are available. However, that availability depends on factors outside of the cannabis industry’s control. 

Considerable Legislation Controls Reopening 

The closing and reopening of the country are the responsibility of the government. As such, in many states throughout America, cannabis has been declared an essential business. Part of this definition includes special privileges, such as the ability for all licensed cannabis centers to deliver in Michigan. This ability was given on March 16th, and considering Michigan’s emergency order was extended to May 28th, it’s unsure when cannabis centers will lose that privilege. Additionally, the state is allowing for sales to be processed online. 

Other states, such as Oklahoma, do not allow delivery but do allow curbside pickup. The shape of each state’s industry is directly defined by what is permissible there. Their reopenings will be similarly defined by lawmakers. Part of where the government is lagging currently is not offering support for cannabis businesses through the lockdown. While this is frustrating, it’s not unknown to the lawmakers and may be addressed in the future. 

Effective Automation May Prevent Risks in the Future

From extraction to cultivation, automation is a rising technology throughout the cannabis industry. Although it’s not commonplace today, automation’s ability to cut down on labor requirements means it can operate in circumstances like today. Nothing like this has ever happened before, where going outside itself is illegal. So wary producers may wisely find themselves adopting automation in the wake of the lockdown.

For those already relying on automation, they’re likely reaping the rewards by keeping their business afloat. When you lose access to human productivity, the only worthy alternative is technology. The lockdown further proved the advantages of working inline with modern innovation in engineering and technology. 

The Supply Chain: The Throat of the Industry

Without supply, there is no industry. While automated production could address crises like the lockdown in the future, the supply chain today mostly relies on human labor. Due to this, it’s of supreme importance to protect the active cultivators within the industry today. 

There is bipartisan support to include cannabis in the stimulus relief in the United States Congress. Perhaps the government will step up to save several businesses throughout this time. If so, farmers and regular employees from budtenders to extraction techs will be able to keep their employment.

The supply chain covers more than growing cannabis. From seed to sale, there’s an entire industry that takes place. Reopening must emphasize stabilizing the production environment as much as possible and taking care of the hardworking people most at risk.