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SF Sunset District Marijuana Shop Sees Business Boost From Pandemic Angst

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Barbary Sunset, a marijuana shop on Irving Street in San Francisco's Outer Sunset neighborhood, is celebrating its one-year anniversary and has seen a significant uptick in sales to customers trying to control stress and anxiety from the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, sales have doubled.

With many gyms and martial arts schools closed, Mike Doane hasn't been able to train as a Krav Maga student for months and has been stuck at home. With increased stress, he is smoking marijuana more often.

"This marijuana just helps me a lot as far as my anxiety and sleep," Doane said.

These have become increasingly common reasons customers are visiting Barbary Sunset.

"I still work but when I come home it's definitely -- there's no work play, so it's definitely a nice chill factor of just calming down," said customer Ava Kennedy of San Francisco.

The city's only cannabis dispensary on the west side says the boost in sales has helped them expand their product line.

Much of the business is coming from first-time CBD users who've been dealing with insomnia and anxiety.

"Especially if you're a parent, you're at home ... and you're listening to your child running up and down the halls it's best to kind of start off slow with CBD," said "budtender" Marquice Lewis.

Barbary Sunset says customers are buying in bulk so they can reduce the number of trips they have to make. The dispensary has also pivoted its business.

"We never closed," said general manager Nicole Eldayat. "We were adaptable and expanded; we started delivery."

Barbary Sunset says it has doubled its staff to 30, including the addition of new drivers.

Across the state, the legal marijuana industry still faces a year of declining sales as a result of the COVID-19 recession, according to the governor.

Gov. Newsom's revised budget now predicts the cannabis excise tax to bring in $435 million in revenue in the fiscal year starting July 1, down from $590 million.

The office said: "Cannabis businesses have less access to banking services that could provide liquidity, have a younger consumer base likely to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 recession and still must contend with competition from the black market."

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