Weed Wednesday, Green Friday: Marijuana Sales Spike at Thanksgiving

“Maybe it’ll make your slightly racist uncle a little bit more tolerable.”

QuickTake: Marijuana's Road to U.S. Legalization

First you'll hit the grocery store for a turkey, or sweet potatoes, or pie. Then maybe the liquor store for a bottle of wine to bring to dinner. And then, depending on where you live, perhaps the dispensary, for an extra Thanksgiving pick-me-up—some marijuana.

The U.S. recreational cannabis market is now estimated to be worth close to $20 billion, and it's growing. California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and apparently Maine all voted this month to legalize recreational marijuana use, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C.

The growing conversation on the subject could send even more people to local dispensaries on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, predicts Cy Scott, co-founder of the Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm Headset.

Last year, marijuana sales the day after Thanksgiving—known in the industry as Green Friday—were up 13 percent from the average Friday, according to a review of Washington dispensary sales data. Denver-based cannabis order-ahead service Baker saw order volume double on last year's Green Friday compared with an average day and expects "a much more significant bump" this year. 

"In states where adult use is fully legal, like Colorado and Oregon, cannabis promotions around Black Friday have been common, and we expect we’ll see more of that happening as prohibition eases across the country," said Adam Bierman, co-founder of MedMen, a marijuana management consulting firm.

It's not just Friday, either. The day before Thanksgiving also sees lines at dispensaries. The Washington data set analyzed by Scott's firm found sales were up 27 percent across the board, leading Headset to dub it Weed Wednesday. Appropriately for the holiday, sales were driven by food and drink consumption; dispensaries sold 58 percent more edibles and 72 percent more beverages than on an average Wednesday. Memorial Day and the Fourth of July showed similar spikes in food and beverage dispensary purchases. 

"It looks like people stock up before the holiday on products that are easy to share amongst friends and family," said Headset Chief Technology Officer Scott Vickers. "These products also allow inconspicuous consumption so could be used to relieve the monotony or tension of some family get-togethers where cannabis is frowned upon." 

At Denver-based dispensary Kaya Cannabis, promotions started Monday and will run through Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Amanda Gonzalez said. In 2015, Gonzalez saw more sales on the days leading up to Thanksgiving than on Black Friday—a fact she attributes to sheer competition from non-cannabis retailers on the infamous shopping day. 

The dispensary, which has both a medical and recreational counter, is selling two holiday gift packages—one $40, one $50. They include edibles, vapor pens, and concentrates—items that, Gonzalez said, "won't offend grandma" if they're spotted at a family get-together. 

"Sometimes, it's a little stressful to see family. In the same way some people might pick up a bottle of wine, some people are looking to pick up recreational cannabis," she said. "Maybe it'll make your slightly racist uncle a little bit more tolerable." 

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