Back in the Wild West days, before California enacted adult-use sales as well as a much more comprehensive regulatory structure, it was the land of the infused pre-rolled joint. For all of 2017, for example, pre-rolls — joints that in addition to flower contain concentrates like hash and caviar, among others — harnessed 28 percent of all pre-roll sales, according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics. In Colorado, by comparison, infused pre-rolls captured just 11 percent of the pre-roll market during that year. And in Oregon, infused sales were just 1 percent of pre-roll sales.
But that was then. Everything changed in California on January 1 of this year — including Golden Stater’s willingness to spend extra money on infused pre-rolls.
During June of this year, infused pre-rolls represented just 15 percent of all pre-roll sales in California. The category has barely nudged since January 1, while regular pre-rolls — good old-fashioned joints lacking the extra concentrate boost — captured increasingly more of the market as the months clicked by. In June, regular joints captured 85 percent of the pre-roll market.
One big problem with the California infused market: price. In June, the average infused pre-roll in CA sold for $18.28 (pre-tax), compared to $9.59 for a regular joint — infused joints are nearly double the cost of regulars. You might think that prices for infused would come down during the first six months of 2018, as the California market began settling. But instead prices rose, from $17.04 in January to $18.28 in June.
As California’s infused pre-roll prospects have curdled, prospects in Colorado and Oregon have ripened. In June of this year, infused joints in Colorado captured 16 percent of sales, up from 11 percent last year. And in Oregon, 2017’s measly 1 percent is history. Infused sales in June of this year rose to 5 percent.
Interestingly, the disparity between a regular and infused joint in both Colorado and Oregon is roughly on-par with that in California: close to double. The big difference? Rather than disparity, it’s price. An average infused pre-roll in Colorado sold for $13.46 in June, and in Oregon the average price was $12.14. California’s average price of $18.28 is markedly higher.
Will infused pre-rolls roar back into the California consumer marketplace? In the fast-evolving cannabis marketplace, much is possible. But prices may have to nudge down before they return to those heady pre-2018 days of robust market share.