As the legal cannabis market matures, products that in the past barely existed become more mainstream, with multiple brands, plenty of shelf space and enthusiastic consumers. Relatively high-tech concentrates like shatter and wax (compared, for example, to old-school concentrates like hash and keef) were pursued by only the most dedicated cannabis enthusiasts, who were willing to invite a fair bit of risk, expense and danger into their lives for the sake of a marijuana experience.
Topicals fall into the “only with legalization” zone. Of course prior to legalization some cannabis lovers leveraged their favorite plant for creams, salves and more. But just as it was with high-tech concentrates, the people who crafted their own cannabis topical products were rare.
Now, topicals are a booming commercial marketplace, with multiple brands in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California, and growth spiking aggressively, according to data from cannabis data analytics firm BDS Analytics.
A particularly interesting trend within the topicals market is the rise of the balms/salves categories this year. In all of the states referenced above, the balms/salves category has taken off since January.
In Colorado, for example, consumers spent $441,600 on balms/salves in January of this year. But by July, sales had more than doubled, to $895,300. Up until May of last year transdermal patches were No. 1 in Colorado, but in that month balms/salves edged past patches, and while sales for balms/salves have risen markedly ever since, sales of patches has bounced around; as of August, the once reigning category had fallen to third place, also behind creams.
The story is similar in Oregon. In January, the No. 1 category of balms/salves saw $152,300 in sales. But by August sales had rocketed up to $503,500, which more than triple January sales.
Washington? More of the same — sales of $159,600 in January rose to $303,100 in July, just shy of doubling.
Data in California begins in March of this year, when balms/salves experienced $704,100 in sales and led the topicals market. By September, the category pulled in $1 million in sales.
Among all of the states combined, dispensaries sold $35.46 worth of topicals products between January and August of this year, representing growth of 120.5 percent. It remains a small slice of the $3.24 billion (since January of this year) cannabis pie, but growth is excellent and consumer passion for balms/salves is mounting.