Marijuana sales in Nevada have decreased by more than 50% since the coronavirus lockdown began, according to a local trade body.

The Nevada Dispensary Association attributed the decline to a lack of tourists and an inability to serve the local market through delivery services.

Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close on March 22 in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The famous casinos on the Las Vegas Strip had to shut their doors, and tourism nosedived.

Marijuana businesses were deemed essential services, but Sisolak ruled that they could only offer delivery services to consumers. They had to close their brick and mortar retail premises and quickly try to adjust their operations, but many have been unable to meet demand.

They have been busy buying more vehicles, hiring drivers and changing their sales platforms, while also implementing new practices to ensure workers remain safe. That has led to higher expenditure, but revenue is down.

Cannabis is illegal at a federal level, meaning cannabis businesses cannot benefit from federal relief, apart from possibly delaying their payroll tax payment.

“Other businesses that are able to weather the storm [can do so] with forgivable loans and can afford to keep employees because their payroll is being subsidized, but the cannabis industry will not receive any financial assistance,” warned Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association.

In the absence of any federal support during the coronavirus crisis, marijuana industry associations have written to governors and state treasurers to ask for help. They reminded state leaders that marijuana firms provide thousands of jobs and provide essential services.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, Marijuana Policy Project, Minority Cannabis Industry Association, Cannabis Trade Federation, National Cannabis Roundtable and Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce signed the letter.

In Nevada, state officials have provided some help by expediting the vehicle approval process that marijuana dispensaries must complete. The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board said there are now around 850 vehicles out on the roads delivering cannabis to residents.

Planet 13, the vast cannabis store and entertainment destination in Las Vegas, has also teamed up with Clark County to deliver meals to elderly and disabled people in the local area during the lockdown. The meals do not contain cannabis.

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