Breakdown of cannabis purchasing trends by state

Jan 17, 2020

What are people buying in the dispensaries? We looked at point-of-sale data from four states where recreational cannabis is legal in order to compare. This data was taken from participating customers who voluntarily signed up for loyalty and rewards cards.  

The four states included in the study are: California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington.

What’s in the basket? Flower.

As always, the top basket item for cannabis consumers is flower. However, flower isn’t holding as strong in California, where vape pens now make up 32% of sales.

There are several reasons vaping could be gaining on old-fashioned smoking in California. One reason could be the urge to stay away from anything that could harshly impact your lungs. Another reason is discretion. The lack of “weed smell” makes it easier to partake in shared spaces. Whatever the reason, vape pens could be overtaking flower in California in the near future.

Below is a breakdown of the purchasing of “smokable” cannabis products by dispensary customers over the past few months.

% Sales of Cannabis Inhalables by State
% Sales of Cannabis Inhalables by State

Purchasing trends in edibles

Edibles are one category that has vastly different trends between states. Some of this is due to regulation differences. Seattle, for example, was moving to ban the sale of edibles since they are seen as appealing to children. Ultimately, the cannabis laws were amended to exclude certain colors and flavors that could be mistaken as candy.

Gummies are cute, easy to eat and don’t melt. They’re also the most popular edible in nearly every state except for Washington. Following close behind is chocolate, which is the more traditional form for edible cannabis products. Hard candies and gum appear to be the least popular form of edible in California, but they don’t fare as badly in other states. Most consumers are not interested in edibles that take a while to consume. Chewy candies, such as caramels, also have a very low market share everywhere but in Washington.

% of Cannabis Market Share of Edibles Segments by State
% of Cannabis Market Share of Edibles Segments by State

Edibles are popular due to their more intense effects and ease of use. They can be taken in a more discreet manner without any smoke.

How much does cannabis cost per state?

What cannabis products people are buying isn’t the only state-to-state difference for dispensaries. Cannabis is more expensive in California and Nevada, but cheapest in Washington. One reason for the discrepancy is taxes. While Colorado has a 15% tax, Washington has a 37% sales tax on cannabis sales. Because of this, the retail price must be lower in order to make a trip to the dispensary accessible to average buyers. Meanwhile, California has a 15% excise tax on recreational cannabis which averages out to about $9.25 per ounce of flower.

Prices below are taken from a recent survey which was conducted within the last three months.

Cannabis Average Item Price by State
Cannabis Average Item Price by State

Headset continues to study purchasing and pricing trends through voluntary point-of-sale data collected directly from Dispensaries at the reg