Despite a pandemic ravaging the global economy last year, the cannabis industry survived relatively unscathed. In most states where legal marijuana markets categorized the controversial crop as essential, cannabis sellers were allowed to continue their operations amid lockdown orders. But while cannabis flower enjoyed consistently high sales numbers, cannabis concentrates were also carving out a market for themselves.
Comparing sales data collected from January to November 2020 to data collected over the same period the year before, data analytics firm Headset found that there was a 40% surge in marijuana concentrate sales in states such as Colorado, Nevada, California and Washington. Oregon’s recreational and medical marijuana markets registered the same increase in sales. According to the Seattle-based firm, total cannabis concentrate sales increased to $797 million in 2020 from $567 million in 2019. The boom in cannabis concentrate sales can be attributed to the following:
Maturing consumption. Marijuana users usually start with cannabis flower and, as they get more experienced, work their way up to the more potent stuff. President and CEO of Ammonite Mike McDonald says heavy users consume cannabis every day, building up a tolerance over time. The San Francisco Bay Area-based firm has seen concentrates become popular in more mature markets such as California and Colorado, McDonald says. Since concentrates contain up to 90% THC, people usually start using them as they grow more experienced.
Technological advancements. Consuming a concentrate isn’t as simple as smoking cannabis flower or dining on an edible. It requires a complicated smoking tool known as a dab rig, a major reason why many users wait until they are more experienced to give concentrates a try. But with the development of new portable technology such as handheld vaporizers, more customers can use concentrates. Small, portable, battery-powered vaporizers have pushed the trend, says McDonald, allowing customers to carry the vaporizer along with a one-gram jar of concentrate discreetly and with ease.
An alternative to vaping. Vape pens were all the rage when they first came out. However, after the vaping health crisis in 2019 left more than 2,500 people hospitalized with cases of lung illness, most users became extremely careful about what they consumed and how they consumed it. Gone were the solvents and common additives as people started turning to solventless extracts such as live resin and rosin. Katie Bacjar, director of marketing at Spherex, a cannabis extraction company based in Aurora, Colorado, says people are moving towards cleaner cannabis oils and other products.
Although solventless products are difficult to scale up, she says that they are steadily reducing the fear of vaping.
Speaking of cannabis concentrates, Canada-based Pure Extracts Technologies Corp. (CSE: PULL) (OTC: PRXTF) has distinguished itself in that market as the leader in extracting cannabis compounds, a rapidly growing segment of the industry.
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