While plenty of businesses shuttered or, at the very least, struggled throughout the worst of the pandemic, recreational cannabis soared. In fact, legal cannabis sales in the United States surpassed $17.5 billion in 2020 alone. Just ask local retailers, like California-based, family-run Stone Road, whose sun-grown, organic kush is sourced from the brand’s 57-acre, off-grid biodynamic farm in Nevada City, California. “Like most industries, shipping delays and a shortage of raw materials during the COVID-19 pandemic have put a pinch on our supply chain. To keep up with demand, we are also utilizing partner farms in other states that grow specific strains for us and package Stone Road products,” Lex Corwin, the brand’s founder, explains.
Another densely populated locale that’s experiencing a cannabis boom? Toronto, which is home to the ultra-charming Superette. The cannabis retailer’s sales skyrocketed so high that, last month, the brand opened its newest concept shop, a European convenience store–inspired, cafeteria-style kiosk dubbed Sip ‘N’ Smoke. Cofounder and chief brand officer, Drummond Munro, notes, “Given the general shift in consumer preferences, we wanted to reflect those in how we approached this new retail environment for Sip ‘N’ Smoke. The express-store setup and narrow product focus allow us to keep up with consumer demand.”
Superette isn’t the only retailer taking a more nuanced approach to address the enormous surge in demand. Farmers who need extra space to grow more herb are looking in unexpected places: One of the largest cannabis companies, Canopy Growth, has taken over a former Hershey factory; one of America’s biggest medical marijuana cultivators, Verano Holdings, has recently moved into what used to be Readington, New Jersey’s, neighborhood Walmart; and the Northeast’s Evergrow is in the middle of negotiations on their potential new home, a former police training facility in Flint, Michigan.
“We believe that life is better with cannabis, so we build Liberty Cannabis dispensaries and Holistic Industries growth processing facilities in neighborhoods that want and need us to better the community. Part of what we look for when scouting locations for our facilities is a property that has been abandoned or neglected that we can revitalize,” Josh Genderson, CEO of Holistic Industries, suggests. One such dilapidated property that was in desperate need of a facelift was the former bowling alley that Genderson and his team transformed into a sprawling 64,000-square-foot vertically-integrated growth and retail outpost.
These massive growth facilities are sweeping through the world’s more liberal territories at lightning speed, a development every The Big Lebowski fan is celebrating after a painful pandemic without a tightly rolled joint in hand. Finally, retailers and growth farms are catching up, and if supply and demand have a distinct scent, it’s that of marijuana.