Sales of flower — everything from grams of Blue Dream to ounces of generic hybrid blends — dominate in all states with legal recreational marijuana, compared to other categories like concentrates, edibles and topicals. During the first quarter of 2017 in all channels between Colorado, Washington and Oregon, flower captured 52 percent of the broader cannabis market, according to data from BDS Analytics, a leader in cannabis data and market research. Impressive, but down compared to flower’s market share during Q1 2016, when it stood at 60 percent.
Either way, the potency of flower’s dominance fluctuates within states, and it varies between states.
In Colorado, sales of flower during the first quarter of 2017 hit $178.6 million, which is up a whopping 20.4 percent from the same quarter in 2016. Growth of flower sales during Q1 2017 are up markedly compared to the growth between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, when flower sales were up by 14 percent. Growth like this, in an already mature market, is remarkable. All of the growth comes from the adult-use channel, which expanded by 35.5 percent during the quarter; sales within the medical channel declined by 4.5 percent. Hybrid strains lead the pack, accounting for 54 percent of flower sales, with sativa snagging second place (24 percent) followed by indica at 21 percent.
The upward trend is even more pronounced in Washington state, where flower sales during the first quarter of this year are up by 44.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Washington has only one channel for cannabis sales — adult-use — so the growth is not bifurcated as in Colorado. Regardless, last quarter’s sales of $120.09 million in Washington represented enormous growth. However, the rate of growth in Washington has slowed down. Flower sales in the state experienced jaw-dropping growth of 121.3 percent between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016.
As in Colorado, hybrids rule, but preferences for indica vs. sativa switch places in Washington, where consumers prefer indica.
And then there is Oregon, where trends so often are bucked.
Flower sales in the Beaver State actually declined by 4.9 percent during the first quarter of 2017, from $59.26 million during Q1 2016 to $56.36 million during the first quarter of 2017. The downward trend is due at least in part to a dramatic loss of sales within the state’s medical channel, which are down by 37.1 percent. Within adult-use, sales are up compared to the same quarter last year by 6.9 percent.
However, consumers in Oregon could not purchase anything but flower through the adult-use channel during Q1 of 2016, but during Q1 of this year they could buy edibles, concentrates, topicals and more. It is possible that Oregon’s overall dampened rate of growth during the first quarter of 2017 is also a reflection of availability of new product categories, like concentrates, eating into flower sales.
The latest Oregon data, from May of this year, shows flower sales overall during the month compared to May of 2016 up 1.5 percent, and boosted by 10.2 percent within the adult-use channel while down by 27.3 percent within medical.
Hybrids capture 59 percent of the market, and as in Washington, sales of indica are slightly ahead of those for sativa.
In cannabis, it’s a flower’s world, but some states are more flowery than others.
Douglas Brown spent more than two decades in newspaper and magazine newsrooms around the country, covering everything from the White House and Capitol Hill to technology policy to crime in New Mexico. Now, he runs Contact High Communications, a leading cannabis public relations firm based in Boulder, CO. He can be reached at www.contacthighco.com
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