08.16.2016
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Marijuana Is Here to Save the Vape Industry

Because rehab culture will only help so much.

If the vape industry is determined to be more than a flash-in-the pen, here-today, mist-tomorrow business model, failing expectations must be defied. For one thing, every e-cig franchise store that has ever existed looked like it was about to go bust at the grand opening. For two things, industry stakeholders recently tried to promote media and public interest in “vape culture,” tone deaf to the rhyming reality that when the v in vape switches to an r, you place yourself adjacent to a culture no e-smoker can afford to be associated with.

Hope, however, is at hand for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of smoke-free smoking devices. That hope, as is so often the case, arrives in the form of marijuana.

New figures released by legal-weed data platform Headset indicate that the vapor pen market may be emerging as one of the fastest-growing facets of the new cannabis capitalism. So far in 2016, the growth rate for vapor products in Washington State pot outlets is more than double the growth rate of the weed market as a whole.

So, while the sales point that using vape systems for nicotine delivery as a “healthy,” “safe” alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes is being actively dismantled, vapor pens are showing signs of being “the next big thing in cannabis,” according to Headset’s market intelligence.

Of course, cannabis producers are embracing vape-life products. There’s no pressure to make the cannabis concentrates used in the devices look pretty. Flower marijuana sells best when the bud’s beauty glistens, free of powdery mildew—but cosmetic considerations are filtered out in the process of extracting the weed goop that fills cannabis vape cartridges and refills. Concentrates also retain their desirability while sitting on the shelf much longer than weed greens do—not that concentrates tend to sit on the shelf.

In the first half of 2016, Washington state weed outlets showed a 32 percent sales growth in vapor pens, cartridges, and refills—with cartridges accounting for 80 percent of all vape-related purchases in pot shops.

More than 60 brands are jostling for Washington’s weed-vaping dollars. New products entering the fray often attempt to undersell established brands with price cuts. That competition has depressed average item prices in the vapor market by 14 percent in half a year, putting most purchased items in the $20 to $40 range.

Ready for some interesting vape fact hits?

1) The highest percentage of vape pens (18.7 percent) was sold on Fridays.

2) The top five selling cartridge strains for July were Alien Kush, Purple Kush, Baked Cookies, Cherry OG, and Durban Poison, all in the half-gram allotment size.

3) Vaporized-cannabis consumers are primarily male (64 percent).

4) The largest reported canna-vape-consumer age group (14 percent) is 31 to 35 years old, edged out by the 16 percent of Washington state weed vape buyers that reported no age in the first half of 2016.

Maybe these secret vapers are the expanding shadow demo that entrepreneurial vape culture promoters will thrive, or die off, with.

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