Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are dealing with stress, anxiety and boredom, and some San Diegans' coping mechanism has shown in sales.
"I personally use it a lot to manage my anxiety and my stress,” said San Diegan Jackie Bryant, referring to marijuana, “and it’s been a really huge help for my mental health during the pandemic.”
Blake Marchand is the owner of marijuana dispensary, March and Ash in Mission Valley. He compared the initial rush of marijuana sales during the beginning of the pandemic to that of some other popular items.
“It was similar to how people ran to Costco to grab you know, all the toilet paper that they could. I think in the first couple weeks, you know, a lot of customers are coming in and just grabbing, grabbing enough just in case we were to be shut down," he said.
Bryant is also a freelance journalist, who has covered the marijuana industry extensively. She said while sales did level off after that initial spike, there was a second increase in local sales.
“People started getting their stimulus checks, their unemployment checks, their PPP money. You start to see sales tick back up at the dispensaries," Bryant said. "People are going out, people are spending money and kind of getting back into their consumption routines."
An analysis by NBC 7 Investigates shows marijuana sales for the last three years have significantly increased year after year in San Diego.
In 2018, dispensaries in San Diego made $5.4 million combined. In 2019, it jumped
In 2019, it jumped to $12.6 million. Then from January to July 31, 2020, city dispensaries made $10.2 million.
“Us being deemed essential and allowed to remain open has helped every city we have worked in,” said Marchand.
Marchand is referring to the tax money the city of San Diego and other cities have collected from dispensaries. San Diego has been financially up-ended, due to dips in sales tax revenues from coronavirus closures.
Now, America's Finest City and other cities are taking a look at cannabis sales, as a way to help mend the hole in their bleeding budgets.
This year so far, San Diego has already made nearly $820,000 off dispensaries.
Through a California Public Records Request, NBC 7 Investigates discovered that in 2019, the city of San Diego collected $1 million in tax money from dispensaries.