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Home » Features » New sector data: is the cannabis industry recession-proof?

Prohibition Partners, the specialist cannabis industry data and intelligence firm has released new survey intelligence indicating that in the light of the current coronavirus, the lockdown across the world, and the resulting increased global usage, cannabis looks set to become a “recession proof” investment, having been classed as an essential good in the US, Canada and the Netherlands.

In terms of projections for the “new normal” post-COVID lockdown, Retail Gazette and others last month reported that generally consumer confidence in the UK remains “battered and bruised” despite the easing of some lockdown restrictions and is set to remain fragile for some time, according to the GFK index.

However according to new research from Prohibition Partners, cannabis appears to be not only weathering the storm, but thriving – indeed for both recreational and medical use. Most users either expect coronavirus to have no impact on their purchase habits, or expect their consumption to increase. This is most true in categories that are more likely to be used for health and wellness, such as medicinal cannabis and CBD (e.g. oils, tinctures, gummies etc).

UK and US expected to consume more cannabis products

Overall the US and UK are expected to use more, not less CBD/hemp infused consumer goods in the next three months, possibly as they turn to alternatives to other intoxicating substances, or for products that can help ease stressors of the prolonged lockdown.

Prohibition Partners surveyed 3,155 adults aged 16+ who have used recreational cannabis in the last year across Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US and found when it comes to recreational cannabis 32% of users expected their consumption to increase.

For medical cannabis across the same countries, Prohibition Partners surveyed 1,817 adults aged 16+ who have used medicinal cannabis in the last 12 months. Here the results were higher still with 47% of those surveyed expecting consumption to remain the same whilst 35% expected to increase their consumption.

150% rise in UK cannabis medical prescriptions

In terms of medical treatment, since 2018, millions of people in the US have come to view cannabis as a safe and effective treatment. And this is now extending to the UK. Since April 2019 cannabis has been available to patients on NHS prescription.

Jonathan Nadler – Group Managing Director of one of the UK’s largest medical cannabis access groups, Lyphe Group, said:

“In the last 12 months, UK prescriptions for medical cannabis have seen an 150% rise, and we are hopeful for considerable continued growth for the rest of 2020. We calculate growth by considering public information on fulfilled prescriptions and estimating the private prescriber and prescription numbers. Furthermore – there has been a significant step change since the beginning of COVID-19, with a larger volume of patients and a much quicker process to complete the initial consultation with the patient.”

These findings align with previous conclusions across the industry over the past month: according to CNBC, in the US “Average store revenue is up 52% to 130% compared with January at more than 1,300 stores using [California based] cannabis e-commerce platform Jane Technologies”.

On home soil, for the legal CBD market, the story is looking similar in the UK, albeit on a smaller scale, with recent research by Prohibition Partners indicating that a phenomenal 20% of the UK population aged 16+ have used CBD in the last 12 months. This equates to over 13 million UK users and gives a projected spend of £527 million in 2020.

Furthermore, data indicates an expected growth to value sales of around 20% year-on-year. This in the main, is driven by the fact that an additional 10% of UK consumers state that they intend to use CBD in the next 12 months – which equates another 6.7 million users in the UK market.

This article is not investment advice. Investors should do their own research or consult a professional advisor.

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse has spent 25 years in journalism and marketing, including as a wealth management editor for the Financial Times group, covering capital markets and international private banking, and as an investment banking correspondent for Euromoney in Hong Kong. He was the founder editor of The Hedge Fund Journal.

Stuart has worked at CMC Markets, supporting the re-launch of its global financial spread betting and CFD trading platforms. He is also the author of two books on trading, published by Financial Times Pearson. Based in The Armchair Trader’s London office, Stuart continues to advise fund managers, private banks, family offices and other financial institutions.

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