Should marijuana dispensaries be considered an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic? Despite operation in more than 30 states, medical dispensaries aren’t recognized by the federal government as legal and won’t be receiving help from the relief bill. This could be why cannabis use has seen a noticeable decrease in the last few weeks.Research from CivicScience indicates that an overwhelming number of Americans believe that medical marijuana dispensaries should be recognized as essential and should not be closed during lockdowns. A recent survey of more than 2,200 U.S. adults found that more people were for keeping medical dispensaries open than were against it, while 15% were uncertain.

Less Americans — about one-third — believe that recreational marijuana dispensaries should stay open. Some states allow recreational use and dispensaries can sell both medical and recreational.

Still, results from both surveys are surprisingly high, considering that marijuana dispensaries are a relatively new development for many U.S. states, and only 15% of respondents claim they use cannabis at all, while close to two-thirds say they rarely or never use it.

In fact, data show that nearly 40% of non-users (excluding those who prefer not to answer) agree that medical dispensaries in particular should remain open. 

What’s more, the opinion to keep medical dispensaries open to the public doesn’t vary based on the type of area people live in, seeing the same percentage among city, suburban, and rural dwellers. 

However, the survey does reveal a few nuances. 

  • People in the Northeast region are the most likely to say medical dispensaries should remain open (48%), but over 40% of those in all regions of the U.S. agree. 
  • Likewise, more that 40% of adults in all age groups support keeping medical dispensaries open. But, those 55 and over are slightly more likely than Gen Z or Millennials, even though they are the least likely to actually use cannabis.

Regardless of use, medical marijuana has certainly gained broad acceptance in the U.S. in just a short period of time, and the current health crisis is bringing that to light.

Cannabis Purchasing Mirroring Grocery Purchasing

Despite 61% of Americans saying they are stressed out because of the coronavirus, CivicScience has not seen a reported increase in cannabis use in the past 30 days. People aren’t necessarily smoking more, but that’s not stopping them from buying more; dispensaries have reported being extra busy during this time.

Grocery-buying may be an indicator of marijuana-buying as well, at least during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey shows that cannabis users as a whole are more likely than non-users to have stocked up on groceries.

However, the grocery-buying habits of daily cannabis users are nearly the same as non-users, suggesting that for daily users, the reported rush to purchase marijuana may be fueled more by fears of dispensaries shutting down than other reasons.