Bright economic spot in the north coast cannabis sector in a pandemic poised for a strong 2021

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While most local businesses struggled under the coronavirus pandemic last year, the legal cannabis industry on the north coast grew.

Consumers craved cannabis-infused gums and sparkling water, as well as an array of smokable buds and pre-rolled joints, to help deal with the infectious disease that killed more than 400,000 Americans. Added to this is the stress caused by the associated economic effects of unemployment, which have not been seen since the Great Depression.

The Solful pharmacy in Sebastopol saw its sales increase by almost 20% last year. The digital business expanded to around a third of sales as more customers preferred online consultations, delivery services and the new roadside pickup.

“What it really shows is that people really need cannabis when they need it most,” said Eli Melrod, co-founder and CEO.

His business recently conducted a survey on customer needs in the age of coronavirus.

“People overwhelmingly said, ‘I can’t imagine all year without the products’ whether it’s sleep or if it’s cannabis drinks at the end of the day,” Melrod said. “It plays an important role in people’s lives.”

Marijuana also plays an important financial role across the state as the sector was identified as a “material business” by Governor Gavin Newsom in March and allowed the industry to operate during the pandemic.

In return, California benefited hugely from the expected $ 1 billion in state excise, cultivation and sales taxes in 2020, said Nicole Elliot, Newsom’s cannabis advisor.

That number is sure to turn heads in Sacramento as state lawmakers seek to rebuild a troubled economy and see an industry emerging with great potential.

The industry’s producers and retailers believe they are ready to write a new chapter for the facility. It is increasingly losing its Cheech & Chong Stoner atmosphere and becoming an important part of the agricultural landscape of the Golden State. They claim that 2021 should contribute to important moments like the 1996 state vote of medical marijuana use and a similar effort in 2016 that legalized recreational use.

“I feel like we’re getting out of our uncomfortable youth. We are transforming into a mature legal cannabis room and the pain will only increase, ”said Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. “I think there are reasons to be optimistic.”

That optimism is heightened by the possibility of action with the new Biden administration and a democratically controlled Congress that appears poised to exonerate marijuana, which is still classified as an illegal drug under federal law. In fact, some lawmakers are pushing for a long-awaited measure to be included in a pandemic relief package designed to remove civil and criminal obligations on financial institutions. This would allow banks to offer cannabis companies a range of commercial banking services, providing them with a reliable flow of capital and eliminating the need to resort to cash.

Even getting off a tight bank account could make a huge difference, said Jim Hourigan, general manager of CannaCraft, a Santa Rosa cannabis product maker that includes a hop seltzer made in partnership with Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma, as well as a large one among others Selection of vape cartridges and chocolates.

CannaCraft has become part of the business of Sonoma County, especially after Bill Silver, the former dean of Sonoma State University’s business school, was hired three years ago. The company currently has around 300 employees and hires when there is high unemployment in the district.

“The amount of cash we deal with is still staggering,” said Hourigan, who had a local bank shut down his personal account after finding employment with CannaCraft. “We have cash that we have to provide security for. We have counters. It’s tough. In the entry-level class, every pharmacy must have an ATM on site. And it’s just not efficient and costly to the industry. “

Despite obstacles like the federal ban on the interstate cannabis trade, CannaCraft is optimistic about the future in California. Last year, the company acquired 4 acres in Lake County to grow its own cannabis and ensure a more efficient supply chain.

“Being in control of it was important to us in order to grow and scale the business,” said Hourigan.

That good outlook extends even to smaller pot planters like Doug Gardner, who recently received Sonoma County approval, after three years of searching and spending about $ 50,000 on his land in the Mount Veeder area growing up to 1 hectare of cannabis to begin with throughout the process.