DENVER – Cannabis consumers are changing their product preferences, moving from flower to smoke-free items like infused edibles, concentrates, pills, and other products.
Non-smokable forms of cannabis offer consumers healthier ways of ingestion. They are even more appealing for cannabis patients with serious medical conditions. For many patients, inhaling smoke is simply not an option.
Another reason vape pens, edibles, and pills are increasing in popularity may have to do with discretion. Eating a cookie or using a vaporizer can attract far less attention than smoking a joint.
The market changes are happening quickly. According to BDS Analytics, a cannabis industry research firm, when Colorado’s legalized recreational sales began in 2014, cannabis flower made up about 67 percent of all dispensary transactions. Today, cannabis flower represents only 44 percent of sales in Colorado. During the same time period, concentrate sales have doubled and now represent 31 percent of all sales in Colorado.
The trend is occurring in other states, as well. In the past year, Oregon dispensaries reported a drop from 51 percent to 44 percent in cannabis flower sales. Flower sales have dropped 3 percent in California since the state legalized recreational use in January.
U.S. Navy veteran Adrian Cromwell has been using cannabis to treat hip and spine injuries for about a decade. Although cannabis helps relieve his pain, he sought a form of ingestion that was healthier than smoking.
“For, like, five weeks I was coughing up black wads so bad, it was horrible. It really woke me up to what was happening with my lungs,” Cromwell said.
The drop in demand, as well as a saturation of growers, is driving down the price of cannabis flower. In Oregon, the price of flower dropped 41 percent in 15 months, hitting a a low of $5.77 per gram in February.
Market analysts expect the trend of falling prices and demand for cannabis flower to continue. Cultivators and dispensary operators may have to consider stocking alternative products to meet the demands of the market.
“Just growing flower is basically a knife fight to the bottom on price,” said Ryan Smith, CEO of LeafLink, a company that produces cannabis business software. “The brands have the power. That’s what consumers expect in every industry, and this is no different.”