America has a bad case of pandemic anxiety. COVID-19 infections are rising.
Tens of millions of workers lost their jobs and face dismal prospects of getting new ones. There is no end in sight.
Anxiety has gone mainstream and so has marijuana.
Americans are turning to their favorite leaf for pandemic anxiety relief.
As coronavirus spreads across the land and leaves economic wreckage in its wake, it seems that all of America could probably qualify as anxious.
“We have seen an uptick in anxiety,” said Kyle Powers, CEO of PrestoDoctor, a New York-based online provider of medical cannabis cards with a network of about three dozen doctors in six states.
Dr. Laren Hightower, who works for PrestoDoctor in the fast-growing medical cannabis state of Oklahoma, said that since the quarantine started in April, “I’ve seen a large increase in the number of patients requesting medical cannabis to relieve their symptoms, mainly anxiety. It’s understandable that with the financial stress from job loss, furloughs, and shifting to working from home, multitudes are overwhelmed.”
COVID-19 cases are surging in at least 40 states, particularly Florida and Arizona, which were reporting daily records heading into the July 4 weekend.
After a holiday weekend of inadequate social distancing in the Sunshine State, intensive care units were maxed out in 56 hospitals.
Dispensaries remain open in Florida and Arizona, where governors designated dispensaries as essential businesses.
Florida and Arizona experienced an unprecedented surge in cannabis sales, with the most recent figures from May showing record sales that easily exceed pre-pandemic levels. It remains to be seen whether summertime sales will rise in tandem with COVID-19.
But numbers have been trending in that direction, prompting Cantor Fitzgerald to raise the price target for Trulieve Cannabis Corp., which just opened its 51st location in Florida.
In Arizona, more than 90% of patients have chronic pain as a qualifying condition, said Steve White, president of the Arizona Dispensaries Association.But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Arizona does not include anxiety as a qualifying condition, so it’s harder to gauge whether it might be an unspoken motivation behind some of the patients signing up with other qualifying conditions.
“In terms of overall cannabis consumption, we expect a variety of factors are driving consumption trends, including greater reliance on cannabis to relieve stress and anxiety, aid sleep, and accentuate recreational experiences,” said White, who is also CEO of Harvest House of Cannabis, which has dispensaries in four states including Florida and Arizona.
Back in New Jersey, Dr. Tiedrich said he’s written 586 prescriptions for medical cannabis, including many for anxiety, chronic pain, and PTSD.
He said that increased cannabis use, whatever the qualifying conditions may be, can only benefit society in these trying times.
“Frankly, I think we all should be smoking pot,” he said. “It would be a more peaceful world. Women should run it, and we should all be buzzed.”