Call us old-fashioned, but it’s hard to beat the experience that properly grown cannabis flower offers. Even better is when that flower is of exceptional quality thanks to the demands of a maturing market—something noted by statisticians who are tracking prices and market trends across recreational-use states.
In Washington state, California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan (also, worthy of note, Canada), trends have emerged that show the power that good flower still holds a top spot in the market. Whether pre-ground or sold by the gram, cannabis flower is continually trending ahead of other cannabis formats in mature markets. However, that doesn’t mean that tides aren’t shifting elsewhere.
While the overall volume of cannabis sold is still predominantly flower, that popularity is waning in favor of other cannabis formulations. Some are due to convenience, like pre-rolls and edibles, but there is more to the story when considering the impact of advocacy groups and the medical user community.
Today’s post is on cannabis flower—a king today, but perhaps not forever.
The Price Questions
Despite the cannabis market looking sharply different from state to state, the law of competition has still played out. In 10 months (between January 2021 and December 2021), the average price of cannabis flower took a tumble from $6.78/gram to $5.82—hardly surprising when one considers the popular format still accounts for 11.5% of the total market’s 18.4% growth. More competition (especially in a growing market) means the price per gram must inevitably fall to remain competitive.
Now, if companies were selling more volume overall, a reduction in price would be apt. However, in the wake of harsh taxes, out-of-state competition, and challenging regulatory mandates, these low prices seem to indicate desperation rather than the market celebrating its inclusivity.
The momentum is also slowing, with stagnating market growth despite the overall high sales volume. Flower grew at the slowest rate, trailing only topicals (up 2.5 percent) and tinctures and sublinguals (down 7.5 percent). As more cannabis flower entered the market and farmers expanded their facilities, prices for cannabis flower continued to fall, signaling what may be the end for this standby in baggies and grinders nationwide.
What’s Growing Instead?
It’s not all bad news for cannabis flower—after all, forward-thinking genetics and the buds produced will continue to be the starting point of great formulations. While the growth of the whole flower slows, new products take center stage. We can’t help but question “why” as a few loose answers emerge.
For the medical community, dosage is everything. When using cannabis for specific and precisely dosed effects, the complexity of smoking and balancing effects is paramount. Not only do budtenders (and corporations, for that matter) work in generalizations when it comes to potency between batches, no grower can assure the same formula-perfect potency as an extract maker or tincture company can.
Likewise, demands levied by groups who wish to reduce smoke pollution or criticize stigmas against “pot culture” have signaled to growers that there may be greater demand for alternative products like edibles and drinks. These products are more discreet, easier to store and consume, while also coming in a variety of flavors that coincide with other market trends like hard seltzers and health drinks.
Is Potency Still King?
When it comes to the flower that remains competitive on the market, one apparent trait has remained among all top performers—potency.
Ethos Cannabis is located in Philadelphia and has marijuana retail and growing businesses in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. According to Mike Bibbey, the vice president of the company, flower buyers in emerging markets continue to purchase depending on the quantity of THC on offer. From one month of being sold out to the next fully-stocked period, he was shocked at the changing market tastes where suddenly potency was the deciding factor in consumer purchases.
“The one thing that’s consistent is that the primary purchase decision is potency,” Bibbey says.
Equally noteworthy is that flower testing at 25% THC or higher is destined to fly off shelves.
His team tries to dispel the idea that high THC equals high quality when it comes to consumer education. Budtenders instead emphasize terpenes, freshness, and cannabinoids are behind great experiences—not simply a number.
Bibbey noted that requiring cannabis firms to disclose terpene profiles on labels helps educate budtenders, who then pass their information on to customers. However, an educated market is more challenging to raise than a frugal one, and we applaud any efforts to educate rather than promote the potency myth.
Beard Bros Pharms will continue to be on the lookout for trends, advancements, and changes within the compliant cannabis space—up to and including the potential reign or loss of our favorite brands, formats, and strains.
While cannabis flower will undoubtedly be a part of the cannabis market for years to come, we must be ready to embrace innovation and shifting consumer tastes as cannabis makes a home for itself in recreation-use markets. For now, we celebrate all of the breeders, growers, and licensed products who offer us a large selection of legendary cannabis flowers to choose from in our markets.