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The Big Money of 420

With $6.9 billion in legal regulated marijuana sales in North America last year, according to Arcview Research, it's no wonder that the cannabis holiday of 420 is becoming big business. Not only do dispensaries benefit from increased sales, but the enthusiasm is felt at restaurants and bars as well. Even mainstream businesses like Lyft and Uber are jumping into the holiday.

Dispensaries see their sales increase at the beginning of the 420 week and if the holiday falls on work day, the sales continue into the weekend. Joel Milton, CEO of cannabis software company Baker said, “Typically, clients began promos on Monday and extend them through the weekend in order to alleviate line congestion. The most common deals run on 4/19 to 4/22.” This year's holiday is on Thursday, which is expected to be even better. “We see sales for both medical and recreational customers and believe that Thursday is a more popular time of week when customers and patients shop (in fact it’s the busiest for medical patients) so we expect it to boost sales significantly,” Milton said. For example, last year 420 fell on a Wednesday and Eaze, a marijuana delivery service, said that dispensaries saw sales rise 16% on Monday, 32% on Tuesday and then 51% on the day of the celebration.

This year, Eaze is expecting to see an even higher increase of edible consumption as well as vaporizers, as they are currently the fastest growing product category since last 4/20. An Eaze spokesperson said, “Last year, flower sales jumped 71% the day before 4/20, indicating consumers are taking it old school to celebrate the big day. On the day of 4/20 there was a 27% increase in edibles and 66% increase in pre-roll sales, indicating people are looking for shareable forms of consumption.”

420 is also turning into a great excuse for a vacation. Cannabis consumers from states where marijuana remains illegal are flocking to the legal states in order to indulge with like-minded people. reported that over the last two years, there has been a 983% increase in 420 cannabis-friendly vacation rental homes in Colorado. They said it was well above other legalized states like Oregon and Washington.

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Foursquare has reported increases in foot traffic to fast food, bars and restaurants during 420. Sarah Spagnolo, Editor-at-large at Foursquare said, “On 4/20/16, we saw an uptick in visits to expected categories including dispensaries (76%), top fast food chains (20%), and pizza places (11%). But we also observed a significant increase in visits to both nightlife spots (+8%) and liquor stores (+36%). Even pubs were up by a whopping 92% compared with the prior week.”

Uber and Lyft have offered special 420 promotions in legalized states. They suggest they consumers under the influence leave the driving to professionals. Uber offers a $4.20 promotional credit in Denver and Lyft is teaming up with the Colorado Department of Transportation on a promotion that will give a $42 ride credit. The ride sharing companies may be hoping to convince cannabis consumers not to smoke and drive, similar to the efforts to keep people from drinking and driving.

Mainstream brands are more than happy to insert a few code words to slyly take advantage of the holiday that falls after Easter, but before Cinco de Mayo. There's Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream, Lagunitas Waldos Ale (based on the founders of 420 who called themselves Waldos), and Chipotle's burrito bowl that suggests you might need a big bowl to get through the day.

All these events and festivals result in additional consumer spending and more jobs. Security personnel, catering, musicians and artists are all reaping the benefits of a newly created celebration. Even waste disposal companies pick up some extra work from all these added events. It may only be a holiday for some, but the green gets spread around to many.

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