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Wholesale Market Report: Nobody Loves Vapes Like Californians!

Nobody Loves Vapes Like Californians

Marijuana consumers in legal states across the country go ape for vapes, but California cannabis enthusiasts are the craziest for the pens.

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Between March and September of this year, dispensary purchases of vapes were enough for the category to capture a full 15 percent of the entire cannabis market, including all of those tons of wholesale flower sold by the gram and in joints according to cannabis market research leader BDS Analytics. Passion for vapes has grown across the year, too — the seven-month average is 15 percent, but in September vapes snagged 18 percent of the state’s marijuana market. No other state with a robust, legal cannabis marketplace comes close.

Wholesale Marijuana Businesses Key

In September alone, California consumers dropped $43.5 million on vapes, and sales expansion since March, which saw $29.3 million in sales, has been dramatic — close to 50 percent growth in just seven months. This is a hot niche not just for retailers, brands and extractors, but for wholesale marijuana businesses, which supply a lot of the all-important cannabis that makes its way into those popular vape pens.

And what do Golden Staters love in their vape pens? Oil — 81 percent of all vapes sold in California in September were filled with oil. But in Colorado and Oregon, sales of distillate (which is essentially oil stripped nearly of everything but the THC) are rising rapidly, and capture large chunks of the vape market. In Colorado, oil represents just 27 percent of sales, while distillate grabs 43 percent. In Oregon, oil sales capture 50 percent of the market, but distillate is close behind, at 42 percent. Regardless of whether oil or distillate is used in the pens, the wholesale cannabis marketplace is vital — both styles depend on flower, of course. Over time, demand for distillate will put even more pressure on wholesale marijuana growers to produce bumper crops, as it takes more flower to create a gram of distillate than it does for a gram of oil.

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Distillate Market Rising and Wholesale Marijuana Meeting Demand

How fast is distillate rising? In Colorado, sales in August of this year were nearly 300 percent over sales from the year prior. In California, distillate sales remain small — just 5 percent of the vape market, with $12.5 million in sales between March and September. But as it is in other states, the popularity of distillate in California is enjoying a sharp upward trajectory. Consumers spent $1.1 million on distillate vapes in March, but in September that number had nearly tripled, to $3.2 million.

Discretion, Convenience, Health Behind Vape Adoration

Consumers embrace vapes for a variety of reasons, with convenience and discretion rising to the top of the list. With vape pens, consumers don’t need lighters, bowls, rolling papers or bongs, not to mention dab rigs. Most of them are about the size of a ballpoint pen — just retrieve the slender wand from your pocket or purse, push a button and let the vaping begin. And unlike a hit from a bowl, vaping doesn’t perfume rooms, cars and patios with the sweet (and pungent) smell of chronic. The odor is subtle, and doesn’t stick around for more than a few minutes. In addition, plenty of marijuana consumers don't want to smoke, but they have not embraced edibles. For them, vaping is ideal.

Who loves vapes? Californians do — from grandmothers looking for pain-relief to dispensary owners banking on their popularity to wholesale marijuana growers that are growing busier by the day meeting demand among California consumers for their favorite plant in all of its forms.