A bevvy of cannabis retailers opened their doors as the industry heads into spring and toward the 4/20 holiday.
The city of Chula Vista in California celebrated the industry holiday with the grand opening of its first cannabis retailer, Grasshopper Dispensary, on April 20. The Chula Vista location is the first retail store for Grasshopper and is in addition to its Southern California delivery services.
Kansas City Cannabis Company is also celebrating the industry holiday with the grand opening of its Blue Sky dispensary on April 20. As part of the celebration, the company gave gift bags containing, coupons, accessories and “goodies” to the first 100 patients through the door and arranged opportunities for the public to meet with vendors and cannabis influencers. The new location is the company’s fourth dispensary.
Illinois retail chain nuEra opened its fifth retail location in Champaign on April 16. The chains new location is the second store in the greater Champaign-Urbana area and due to regulations will only be permitted to serve recreational customers.
With great fanfare, Hashish Boyz opened its doors in Bay City, Michigan on April 9. The recreational cannabis store welcomed consumers to its outdoor grand opening celebration with food trucks, DJs, musical acts and cannabis vendors. The ‘70s themed cannabis store will sell medical and recreational products and is one of the first retail locations in the state to sell clones.
For the first time in its 46-year history, High Times officially has its own cannabis store, High Times Market, which opened in Oakland on April 1. While this is the first High Times branded store, the famed magazine already has a delivery service and four retail stores in California and plans to open another six California stores in the future.
On March 30, the multi-state cannabis operator Vireo Health opened its first Green Goods dispensary in Fredrick, Maryland. As part of the celebration the company hosted Roll it Up for Justice, a fundraiser for the advocacy group Last Prisoner Project who will then use the funds to help free prisoners serving time for non-violent cannabis offenses that are now legal in Maryland.
New Arizona Licenses
Thirteen dispensary licenses for rural counties in Arizona were awarded to applicants on April 19. The Arizona Department of Health Services selected the winners via bingo machine, as state officials did in 2010 and again in 2016.
“It’s their way to avoid litigation,” said Sara Gullickson, CEO of The Cannabis Business Advisors. “Arizona’s system is interesting in the sense that we have one of the most valuable licenses in the country, but the winners are awarded based on luck. It’s kind of a hard pill to swallow.”
The licenses were for Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties. Arizona now has 143 dispensary licenses, of which 125 are operating.
Each applicant needed to show proof of secured, aptly zoned property that is signed off for cannabis operations by the property owner and the governing municipality. On top of that, applicants also needed to have $500,000 liquid capital available and pay the $25,000 non-refundable fee in order to have a ball entered into the lottery.
The Department of Health Services collected $9.4 million in fees from the 377 applications (22 applicants were disqualified prior to the lottery).
“There are a lot of people who are probably very disappointed today,” Gullickson said. “I had a pit in my stomach the whole time.”
For Gullickson, this was the third time she’d applied for an Arizona license through the lottery system. Each time her ball was not selected. Both of the counties in which she applied had two licenses available and 43 and 56 applicants respectively.
“If I told people how much money I invested into the lottery they would probably be like, ‘You’re insane,’” Gullickson said. “I think the licenses will probably be valued around $8 million.”
Licenses in the greater Phoenix Metro area are estimated to be worth nearly $20 million.
An additional 26 licenses will be awarded through the state’s Social Equity Ownership Program. While a specific date has not been set for the next lottery, the agency will start accepting applications within six months of adopting rules for the new program.
— Patrick Wagner
The cannabis industry isn’t ready for the same level of 4/20 celebrations as it was in April 2019, but specials and events at stores around the country led this year’s holiday to become the largest single day of cannabis sales on record in both the U.S. and Canada, according to data from analytics firm Headset.
Total recreational sales on April 20 in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon (includes medical sales) and Washington topped $42.6 million. In Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, total recreational sales reached $5.97 million CAD.
According to senior data analyst Cooper Ashley, the U.S. total represents an 84.5% increase in average daily sales over the previous four Tuesdays, with the largest growth in the beverage (+161.2%), edibles (+115.7%) and concentrates (+87.9%) categories.
While events were more subdued than in the past, increased vaccination rates and safe practices allowed for measured promotions and events around the country.
While Uncle Ike’s in Seattle opted to skip on the musical acts, bouncy houses and petting zoos that have been staples of the five-store chain’s celebrations in years past, the retailer offered 40% off deals and grams as low as $2 to attract customers.
In similar fashion, Evergreen Market’s five Washington stores decided to focus on door-buster deals and debuting new products while keeping crowds from lingering.
Meanwhile in Denver, former Denver Bronco Reuben Droughns dressed as Willy Wonka and handed out “Golden Tickets” — restaurant gift certificates — to customers at Lightshade locations.