During the tumultuous weeks and months of the past year, a nine-letter word emerged as a game changer for the nation’s legal marijuana industry: “essential.”
It began about a week after the World Health Organization on March 11 declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic.
That’s when California announced a statewide business lockdown, followed by Illinois.
Both states also designated marijuana operators as “essential” – along with pharmacies, supermarkets and liquor stores – and those businesses were allowed to stay open.
California and Illinois were soon followed by dozens of other states that declared marijuana operators as “essential businesses.”
In all, nearly 30 states with functional marijuana markets – as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – deemed marijuana businesses as essential.
The rush of “essential” designations in the early weeks of the pandemic proved to be one of the…