Posted by Ellie Herring / Mar 17, 2020

Combating the Effects of COVID-19 in the Cannabis Industry

After months of weathering uncertainty in the cannabis industry, businesses, consumers, and patients brace for another blow as COVID-19 makes its way around the world. It’s a trying time for the cannabis industry — but is it all grey skies ahead? With rapidly evolving technology for ordering and increased demand for “herbal stress relief,” the industry may have a silver lining.

Our understanding of the COVID-19 virus and the impact it has on businesses worldwide is continually evolving. Countries hit the hardest are implementing quarantine procedures, many of which ban gatherings of 25, 50, or more people, depending on the severity of the area. Although necessary for the greater public safety, small businesses like bars, restaurants, and dispensaries (and their employees) that rely on foot traffic are suffering greatly during this time.

A global pandemic of this size and severity is new for everyone — especially for an industry that’s still finding its footing. Change is inevitable in this stage of the COVID-19 spread. The cannabis community is coming together to do what we can during this time, and although business responses will continually adapt, there are best practices cannabis companies can adopt today to prepare for what’s ahead.



Most cannabis retail locations rely solely on foot traffic. In an effort to maximize social distancing in the upcoming months, consumers flocked to dispensaries to stock up before self-quarantining for an indefinite amount of time. While some states already have a cannabis delivery or online ordering system in place (or are fast-tracking their delivery programs, like Michigan), some of the largest cannabis markets aren’t yet set up for delivery or online ordering. For cannabis businesses that offer alternative options, moving to a delivery system is the obvious choice. This trend is picking up outside of the cannabis industry as well, with restaurants gearing up for delivery or pick-up-only and retail giant Amazon hiring an additional 100,000 employees to support the increased demand.

Cannabis businesses that provide delivery or online ordering will see an increased demand in the coming months. To prepare for the additional orders, cannabis businesses can proactively hire contingent employees. Through Vangst GIGS, our team is actively sourcing on-demand and fully compliant packagers, trimmers, joint rollers, and more to help support the increased demand for businesses with delivery or online pick-up. We’re putting extra precautions in place by asking about recent travel to high-risk areas and sharing the CDC’s guidelines to help minimize the risk involved during this time.

Although delivery and online ordering are both relatively low-contact, the potential for COVID-19 exposure still remains. In addition, some dispensaries are still fully-operational under their current city guidelines. For businesses that remain open but are short on staff due to those on sick leave, the Vangst team is ready to support and help quickly source the talent you need to remain operating at full capacity. From budtenders to extraction technicians and every position in-between, if you’re short on staff we’re happy to help remedy the situation.



Your employee’s health and wellness are the most important concern during this time. Support your staff by proactively addressing sick policies and remote availability. Clearly outline the steps your employees should take if they feel ill. If you’re unsure of what to do, follow the CDC guidelines for best practices. For positions that support a remote working policy, outline the best practices your employees can follow. Share communication channels (like Slack, Gmail, or Zoom) and schedule regular check-ins to make sure everyone feels supported and productivity doesn’t take a hit.

If your team is unfamiliar with working remotely, consider hiring a tech consultant or digital expert to assist in the transition. Vangst works with cannabis-experienced professionals from every sector, including tech, marketing, HR, and more that can quickly get your team up to speed for maximum output while working from home.


For some cities or cannabis businesses, remaining open to the public isn’t a viable or safe option. For cannabis businesses that must halt normal operations, use this period to help streamline processes so your team can hit the ground running once the threat of infection subsides. The newly available time is perfect for getting ahead of the curve when it comes to planning future hires. Read up on the latest hiring practices in our 2019 salary guide for information on cannabis industry trends and salaries.

Halting day-to-day operations allows for extra time to interview and vet candidates as well. With a team operating at 100% as soon as the industry is up and running again, you can save time in the future by proactively recruiting now. Want some help sourcing the best talent in cannabis? Contact us through the form below and we’ll be in touch. Our team is fully remote and operational at this time.

If your facilities remain open to employees but closed to the public, opt for some spring cleaning. In addition to reorganizing your area, deep cleaning the location helps stop the spread of infection. Use this time to organize those files no one has touched, help your team brush up on current compliance laws, or offer some remote cannabis training classes. Keeping your team engaged during the down-time is crucial for survival during uncertain times.



The cannabis community as a whole, which was built around the social sharing of cannabis, is currently redefining how we remain connected while in quarantine. While sharing joints is a no-go for the foreseeable future, there are ways we can remain engaged during the social distancing period. Social media is a great tool for engaging in conversations about the industry, updates on COVID-19, and simply reaching out to say hello. Give us a shout on Instagram or wherever else you find your content, we’d love to hear how you’re doing.

The likelihood of most 4/20 events continuing is slim. This cannabis holiday is a huge revenue-generator for most cannabis businesses. If you can, support your favorites by utilizing online ordering or showing your support on social media.

Although COVID-19 is creating significant hurdles for most businesses and cannabis employees, we can come together as a community to uplift those who need our help the most. We will get through this together. By taking steps to proactively combat the effects of COVID-19, you and your team will remain as prepared as possible for the upcoming changes.


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