Adult-use failed to win the vote in Arizona during the 2016 election, and a recent move to place cannabis adult-use legalization on the 2018 ballot failed to gain enough support. So adult-use in Arizona is at least a few years away.
But that doesn’t meant the fine people of Arizona shrink from cannabis. Unlike South Dakota, Mississippi and 18 other states, Arizona permits medical sales. And the cannabis market in Arizona is among the busiest in the country, with $451.5 million in sales during 2017, according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics, which this month released the first-ever look at retail sales in the Grand Canyon State.
What are the state’s 162,000 patients buying in its 130 dispensaries?
The market-share rankings roughly mirror those in other states — flower is No. 1, followed by concentrates and edibles. But when we drill deep into the data, we find Arizona consumers go their own way in certain ways.
At 51 percent of sales during 2017, flower’s market share in Arizona was higher during the year than in California, Oregon and Colorado. However, consumers in Colorado’s medical program (the state has separate medical and adult-use regulatory regimes) are slightly wilder for flower. Sales of flower in that channel during 2017 hit 54 percent.
When we add pre-rolled joints to the Arizona mix, which garnered 5 percent of sales, we find 57 percent of all Arizona dollar sales involve raw marijuana.
The concentrates market resembles that in other markets — especially California and Oregon. Vapes, as always, dominate the concentrates market. In Arizona, vapes captured 70 percent of all concentrate sales in 2017, making the state the vapiest for 2017. Between January and May of this year, market share for vapes rose to 74 percent, but California’s lust for vapes was even more potent. Vape sales in the Golden State during 2018 rose to 80 percent of all concentrate sales between January and May.
On the other end of the vape spectrum sits Colorado’s medical channel, where vape sales captured only 24 percent of the concentrates market. So while medical consumers in Colorado are profoundly mad about vapes, Arizonans are gaga.
The most interesting twist for Arizona cannabis consumers appears in the edibles market. For one thing, market share for edibles in Arizona in 2017, at just 10 percent, represents the weakest enthusiasm for edibles among California, Oregon and Colorado consumers. Market share for edibles in other states bounced around between 13 and 15 percent last year.
But the more intriguing data point is Arizonans enthusiasm for infused foods, like brownies and cookies. Candy rules in Arizona, in terms of market share, as it does in all other states. But where chocolate is No. 2 in other states, infused foods grab the No. 2 spot in Arizona, by a healthy margin. Infused foods capture 28 percent of edibles sales in Arizona, close to triple chocolate’s 10 percent market share.
Among medical-only states, Arizona is particularly effervescent with commercial activity. Clearly, the state supports a lot of committed cannabis enthusiasts. Whether it pivots to adult-use sales, though depends entirely upon the ballot box.