Why the pandemic was a breakout moment for the cannabis industry

“I expect this will be the first year Nevada does over a billion in cannabis sales,” said Nicolas MacLean, chief executive of Aether Gardens, a cannabis producer in Las Vegas. “And it happened on the back of what I think no one expected.”

Last March, the Strip went dark in its first total shutdown since the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. In the ensuing weeks, Las Vegas became the layoff epicenter of the United States. With casinos closed, visitor volume dropped to a little over 100,000 in April 2020 from 3.5 million in January 2020. The decrease sent the state’s small businesses – including the cannabis sector – into a tailspin.

“That first week, the government didn’t differentiate between essential and nonessential businesses,” Mr. MacLean said. “Dispensaries went into panic mode, asking if they could send product back to us.” (Recreational cannabis is legal in Nevada, though only licensed dispensaries may sell it.) Inside Aether Gardens, a 120,000-square-foot space 14 miles off the Strip, Mr. MacLean and his staff marveled at their latest harvest.

“We’d spent the last year perfecting our flower,” Mr. MacLean said, “and we got caught in the middle of Covid with the best flower we’d ever had.”

Read more at nytimes.com.

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