The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) recently released its monthly report on the state’s medical cannabis program for April 2020. Sales remained strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a stay-at-home order issued by Governor Doug Ducey at the end of March. However, April’s sales were off from March’s record levels, unlike in 2019 when sales volume rose from March to April. The inability to celebrate 4/20 as the industry does typically likely dented April 2020 sales, as daily data shows a drop-off in sales volume and transaction numbers from last year’s 4/20. While demand remained robust, Arizona’s Spot Index in April persisted in a downward trend that began in late March.
As of April, Arizona’s medical cannabis program counted 235,999 patients on its rolls. That figure is up by 2.5% from the 230,317 patients registered in the program at the end of March. The rate of growth in the state’s patient count is larger than it has been in prior months, when it typically was between about 1.5% and 2%. The number of registered patients in Arizona in April 2020 is also up by 19.8% year-over-year, from 197,025 in April 2019.
According to ADHS numbers, 14,829 pounds of cannabis flower were sold through the state’s dispensaries in April, a figure that is down by 3.8% compared to the 15,408 pounds retailed to registered patients in March. March 2020’s flower sales volume remains the record high for Arizona’s market. April 2020’s flower sales volume is up by 25.4% from 11,830 pounds in the same month the year prior.
The decline in flower sales volume from March to April this year breaks from 2019’s data, which shows an increase of 1.3% in that span. Based on daily sales data reported by ADHS, it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic dampened 4/20 sales somewhat in Arizona this year. On April 20, 2019, medical cannabis dispensaries in the state recorded about 47,000 transactions and sold roughly 1,300 pounds of all product types. On April 20, 2020, less than 1,000 pounds of all product types were sold in about 41,000 transactions. The inability of people to gather and partake collectively may have put a dent in April 2020’s flower sales.
The ADHS report also includes sales volume figures for edibles and “marijuana other,” which constitutes extracts and non-edible infused products. April saw 459 pounds of edibles sold, down by 10.4% from 512 pounds sold the month prior. April 2020’s edibles sales volume is down year-over-year, by 16.2%, from 548 pounds in the same month a year ago. April is the fourth straight month in which an annual downturn in edibles sales volume has been reported.
“Marijuana other” products saw their sales volume continue to grow in April 2020. 1,244 pounds of “marijuana other” products were retailed in Arizona in April compared to 1,175 in March, an increase of 5.9%. This product category has experienced massive year-over-year growth, with April 2020’s sales volume up by 77.2%, from 702 pounds in April 2019.
Combined sales volume of all product types reached 16,531 pounds in April, down by 3.3% from March’s total sales volume of 17,095 pounds. As with flower sales volume, March 2020’s cumulative sales volume remains the record high for Arizona’s market, though April 2020’s sales are the second-highest monthly total recorded since the opening of the state’s medical system. April 2020’s cumulative sales volume is up 26.4% relative to a year prior, when dispensaries sold 13,079 pounds of product to patients.
As noted above, Arizonans were subject to a stay-at-home order for essentially the entire month of April. Strong sales continued, to which the second-highest monthly sales volume total in the history of the state’s market attests. However, like our conclusions drawn from examining March’s daily sales data, it appears that the threat of the pandemic worked to suppress sales somewhat in Arizona’s legal medical market. Previously, the daily transactions and sales volumes were down in late March, after the severity of the virus became apparent.
While April 2020’s sales total is up significantly year-over-year, it did not increase by magnitudes as large as those documented in January through March of this year. Daily sales volumes on Fridays remained strong in April 2020, as they are under normal circumstances, but the number of transactions was not up significantly compared to Fridays in April 2019. And, again, sales volume and transaction numbers for 4/20 were off notably this year, though that could also be due to 4/20 falling on a Monday in 2020, compared to a Saturday in 2019. Overall, the data indicates that medical cannabis patients in Arizona continued to demonstrate strong demand during the pandemic and the state’s stay-at-home order, but did take measures to avoid crowds to some extent, with a lack of 4/20 festivities likely impacting total monthly sales negatively.