One of the greatest things about cannabis legalization is the ability to track trends among consumers. When sales were illicit, dealers were not keeping notes about their best-selling products. That has changed in the era of legalization, thanks to seed-to-sale tracking and point-of-sale (POS) data recording.
With that new information in hand, let’s dive deep into three states with legal recreational sales—Colorado, Oregon and California—and examine data from cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics to determine the different products leading the markets in the first four months of 2018.
EDIBLES In the first four months of this year, gummie sales captured 40 percent of the edibles market, generating more than $10 million in sales. Sales growth in gummies during the first third of this year compared to the same period last year has been exceptional, clocking in at 130 percent. And the average retail price (based on all quantities offered) is sweet at $16.43, the lowest among the state’s top-three edibles products.
Rising to second place among edibles is droppers—vials of THC-infused liquid. Droppers snagged 20 percent of the market and grew by 104 percent compared to the same period last year. Dropper juice is often as sweet as gummies, but the retail price comes in a bit sourer: an average (among all dropper sizes available) of $40 during the review period.
In third are chocolate bars. Chocolate bar sales make up 11 percent of the edibles market with $2.8 million in retail sales, but the trajectory is not promising: Growth during the first third of the year was down 39 percent. The prices are appealing, though, with an average retail price of $19.27.
CONCENTRATES As with all recreational cannabis markets, vape cartridges rule. In Oregon, cartridge sales represent 69 percent of the concentrates market and saw growth of 71 percent during the period under review, compared to the same period in 2017. The average price (among all cartridge sizes) was about as high as droppers ($39.14) and sales figures just under $31 million.
Meanwhile, shatter grabbed 11 percent of all concentrate sales in dispensaries and experienced decent growth of 16 percent to more than $4.7 million in sales from January to April this year. In the concentrates world, where products can climb to double the retail price of a typical edible, shatter is a bargain: The average gram was $19.79 in dispensaries.
Rounding out the leader board are oils, with 6 percent of the market and an average price of $40.27. Oils earned a bit more than $2.7 million in the first third of 2018.
STRAINS The top earners in Oregon are not big surprises—these all are well-known strains. Blue Dream is king, with $729,162 in sales. Durban Poison takes a close second with $726,586 in sales. And Golden Pineapple gets the bronze medal: Consumers bought $596,359 worth of the strain from January to April 2018.
(Note: Since recreational sales in California began Jan. 1, comparing 2018 sales data to 2017’s medical market is not a fair comparison. For that reason, we will examine growth only during this year.)
EDIBLES Gummies are winners again in the new California market, but the margin of victory over second place is not as large as in Oregon. Gummies grabbed 25 percent of the California edibles market and experienced enormous growth during 2018. In January, consumers bought $4 million worth of gummies, and in April the haul was $9 million. Total sales figures for that period are more than $27 million, and the average gummie purchase was a relative steal: $14.55.
As in Oregon, droppers captured second place, with 20 percent of sales. The average dropper (among all sizes) was $47.13, and sales in January of $3 million more than doubled to $7 million by April. Total sales for the period were just above $21 million.
Third place in California goes to baked goods (cookies, brownies, etc.), which represent 12 percent of edibles sales. The average baked good costs just $14.28, and sales rose from $2 million in January to $4 million in April, totaling $12.4 million.
CONCENTRATES The California concentrates market is really a story of one product: the vape cartridge. Vapes capture 80 percent of concentrates sales and generate nearly $165 million in revenue, despite an average retail price of just $42.44. January saw $33 million in vapes sales, but in April, sales jumped to $53 million.
The No. 2 and No. 3 top-sellers in California—wax, with 5 percent of the market, and live resin, with 4 percent—amount to little more than a blip with California consumers. Sales figures in January were $9.3 million, and in April were $7.5 million.
STRAINS Blue Dream might as well be called Caesar—it tends to rule the world. In California during the period under review, Blue Dream sales hit just under $4.4 million. The strain is a good value; Blue Dream is often a high-quality strain, but the average price is only $7.98 per gram.
Rounding out the top-three: Kosher Kush with just under $3.4 million in sales and an average retail price of $12.70 per gram, and Jack Herer with sales that reached $2.7 million and with a gram averaging $12.66 at retail.
EDIBLES As in the rest of the states examined here, gummies dominate edibles sales in Colorado. During the first third of 2018, gummies captured 39 percent of the edibles market, on sales of $29.8 million, compared to 15 percent for chocolate bars with $11.8 million in sales. In third place, droppers comprised 7 percent of the market and $5.7 million in sales from January to April.
Growth and price points swing wildly within the top-three for edibles. Gummies experienced 38.5-percent growth compared to the same period in 2017, with an average retail price of $18.23; chocolate bar sales dropped by 3.5 percent at a $19.25 average retail price; droppers saw 20-percent growth and retailed for a whopping $46.33.
CONCENTRATES Of the three markets, Colorado is the least enamored with vapes. The devices still snag first place with 41-percent market share, but that is half of the market share that we see in California. Vapes saw just under $62.4 million in sales during the first third of the year and still experienced growth of 64 percent. The average price of $33.43 is the highest among the top-three for concentrates in Colorado, but the lowest vape price among the three states.
Shatter and wax drew to a tie, each with 17-percent share of the market, but shatter edged past wax with $26 million in sales. However, shatter sales also were down 3 percent, compared to the same period last year. Shatter sells for an average of $17.87 per gram. Wax, meanwhile, saw $25.6 million in sales, and growth was basically flat at 0.1 percent. Wax is pricier than shatter, retailing at an average of $19.18 per gram.
STRAINS Blue Dream is the definite king once again with just under $3.1 million in sales and an average retail of $4.08 per gram, which is quite cheap for such a potent strain. Rising to second during the period was Durban Poison, with just under $1.7 million in sales and an average retail of $4.38 per gram. Coming in third is Golden Goat. That strain saw $1.5 million in sales and sold for an average price of $4.66 per gram.
Douglas Brown is the owner of Contact High Communications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
In early 2016, Meg Sanders—CBT’s cover story subject in that year’s January/February issue—felt like she was on a clear career path with her company, MiNDFUL, where she served as CEO and oversaw a 43,400-square-foot cultivation facility and four dispensaries that generated nearly $18 million in revenue in 2015. Since then, however, Sanders’ interests and career plans have shifted. In this quick-fire interview, she shares what precipitated her departure from the company she helped create, what she is working on now and how she is helping reshape the future of Women Grow, an organization focused on female leadership in the cannabis industry.
Brian MacIver: When and why did you leave MiNDFUL?
Meg Sanders: In 2016, MiNDFUL decided to change priorities from retail growth, national expansion and consulting to a Colorado-centric focus. This was a big shift away from things about which I am passionate and my larger vision of what it means to be mindful of the plant and industry, and, more importantly, my mindful place within it. Erik [Williams, Sanders’ business partner] had been consulting nationally for a few years, and he and I formed Will & Way [a national consulting company] as a vehicle to fulfill that passion and continue forward on the cutting edge of cannabis. One of the most rewarding things we do is help good people find their way in cannabis. It is delightful to work with people you love and respect. It’s also a choice!
MacIver: What have you been working on lately?
Sanders: Will & Way is working with companies around the nation—in particular, California, Nevada and Massachusetts. We are [hired consultants] for Cannabis Strategies Acquisition Corp., the largest cannabis industry IPO to date.
We have a huge focus on Massachusetts right now with several clients in various stages of operations. We are unique in that we have a firm grasp of the national market, lots of deal-flow, the ability to quickly and effectively vet opportunities and a deep bench of expertise, which has led to a lot of investor clients and advising on investment, mergers and acquisitions.
MacIver: What has been your biggest lesson learned in the past two years?
Sanders: The biggest lesson learned has led to Will & Way’s Rule No. 1: No assholes. I cannot stress how important it is to really dig in to people or businesses that want to invest in you or your company. It can definitely take longer to find investors that share your vision, but it will cost you a lot less in the long run, including possibly losing your business, if you choose poorly. The majority of business plans we review do not have realistic funding expectations around exactly how much money this industry costs—not just [capital expenditures], but [operational expenditures] as well. This is a setup for failure.
MacIver: You’re helping with the revival of Women Grow. How has that organization changed since its last iteration?
Sanders: Honestly, I was hoping to be more involved with the revival of Women Grow and made significant financial and time commitments to doing so. I have provided my input to the current leadership as to what I think needs to happen to move the business forward, including suggestions on rebuilding relationships and healing wounds. Overall, I think Women Grow can provide value to the cannabis community. Time will tell.
Whether you’re applying a pesticide to a conventional agricultural crop or to cannabis, the same concepts must be considered to help ensure the application is performed in a safe manner for the applicator, the public and the environment. Here are 15 tips to avoid putting your employees, and your license, at risk when applying pesticides.
Is a Pesticide Application Needed?
The best way to protect employees from exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is to try to avoid using pesticides altogether. However, if pesticides must be used, integrated pest management (IPM) principles should be implemented prior to applying any application. Consider these steps first to help control pest issues:
1. Establish an action threshold. An action threshold is the point at which the pest population becomes so great that corrective action must be taken. Seeing one insect doesn’t always indicate a pesticide application is necessary.
2. Take time to identify and understand the pest’s life cycle and habits. Understanding a pest’s biology could allow you to control a pest issue by simply modifying the environment.
3. Implement cultural practices to proactively prevent pest issues, such as removing plants before pests spread, clean room practices, regular scouting, etc.
4. Once it’s determined a pesticide application is needed, identify the least toxic product that will accomplish your goals.
Making a Pesticide Application
5. Remember to read the label before applying any pesticide because the label is the law. The product label provides important information that the applicator and those who may encounter residues must know, such as:
- Ingredients: Active ingredient(s) in the product.
- Signal word: The signal word will be one of the following: Caution, Warning, Danger or Danger with skull and crossbones. These indicate the product's toxicity level.
- First aid: Information on what to do if the product gets in your eyes, mouth or lungs, or on your skin.
- Precautionary statements: Listed hazards that exist to humans, domestic animals and the environment if exposed to the product. This section provides specific restrictions to prevent exposures.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): Safety equipment that must be worn when mixing, loading and applying the product.
- Directions for use: How and where the product can be applied, at what rates it can be mixed and other restrictions.
- Storage and disposal instructions.
Before You Pull the Trigger
Other considerations to be aware of prior to and after making a pesticide application on cannabis:
6. Be sure you’ve met all federal Worker Protection Standards (WPS). Cannabis is an agricultural crop; therefore, the WPS applies to certain applications.
7. Choose product formulations and application methods least likely to lead to exposure.
8. Mix pesticides in well-ventilated areas.
9. Mix only what is needed to avoid storing or disposing of excess pesticides.
10. Never dispose of unused pesticides down the drain.
11. Be prepared for spills. Have paper towels, kitty litter, garbage bags and non-absorbent gloves on hand and easily accessible.
12. Review the first-aid instructions on the label before use. Understand the warning signs of a pesticide exposure and have the number for the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) available.
13. Make sure the area is well ventilated when spraying indoors. This is especially important in cannabis facilities that have been converted from warehouses (which might not have been equipped with ventilation) to grow facilities. Having air scrubbers or portable air movers on hand can help ensure areas are ventilated properly and in accordance with the WPS.
14. Use the correct mixture rates intended for use on agricultural commodities. Do not use the “non-crop” rates listed on the pesticide label.
15. Always wash your hands after using pesticides, especially before smoking or eating.
John Scott is the pesticide section chief for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. His responsibilities include legislative and rule development for the pesticide registration, pesticide applicator certification and licensure and enforcement programs, as well as policy development, grants and reporting for the Pesticides Program.
We have some big news! Our Cannabis Cultivation Conference is evolving by uniting cultivators with their industry counterparts: dispensaries. We’ve renamed the event “Cannabis Conference” to align the conference with our Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary brands.
We are also moving the show to Las Vegas! After outgrowing our previous space, we surveyed attendees to learn which location would be most accessible for those around the country—and Vegas was the clear front-runner.
So mark your calendars for April 1-3, 2019! We’ll be at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
Cannabis Business Times, which was recently named “Magazine of the Year” by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, launched its first conference in 2017 in Oakland, Calif. Cannabis 2017 was the first of its kind, focusing exclusively on addressing cultivators’ needs—from legal and business challenges to a full-range of horticulture how-to—along with an expo of industry-leading technology and service providers. The event has quickly become the industry conference for serious cannabis cultivation professionals. It has united head growers, investors, business managers, operations directors, compliance specialists and entire grow teams. The unparalleled education program and community atmosphere of this professional event piqued the interest of so many in year one—and brought them back in increased numbers in year two—because attendees had the ability to ask questions in our interactive sessions, meet with and learn from other growers and business owners, as well as gain insights into the latest technologies and products.
Last year, our team launched Cannabis Dispensary magazine to serve the unique needs of cannabis dispensary owners and senior management, and the feedback we received from both cultivators and dispensaries was to bring these two audiences together at our community-focused, professional event that centers on exceptional education and an expo of top suppliers.
Cannabis Conference will unite the plant-touching businesses under one roof with four educational tracks: two for cultivation businesses, and two for dispensary businesses—all of which will address challenges and opportunities that will help the industry elevate and evolve. Cannabis Conference’s expo floor is also expanding to bring you even more products and companies to discover and to take the event’s networking opportunities to a new level.
Registration is now open, and in order to offer some of the best prices in the industry, we will be honoring last year’s event pricing until Aug. 31. Group rates are also available, so bring your whole team for the greatest benefit.
We thank you for being a valued reader of Cannabis Business Times and an essential component in making the Cannabis Conference the must-attend cannabis event for commercial cannabis cultivators.
See you in Vegas!
Cannabis Business Times’ interactive legislative map is another tool to help cultivators quickly navigate state cannabis laws and find news relevant to their markets. View More