Recreational marijuana vape product sales are suffering in the wake of a nationwide health scare that caused several deaths and hundreds of illnesses.The shares of vape sales in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington state’s recreational markets have declined significantly since the first vape-related death was reported in late August, according to Headset, a Seattle-based provider of data and analytics to the cannabis industry.
While vape’s share of the total recreational market in each state fluctuates from week to week, the declines fall well outside the range of normal variations.
To be clear, total dollar sales of vape products are still above where they were at the same time last year, even after the recent news of six vape-related deaths.
But vape product’s share of the market have declined, meaning consumers are moving their spending away from vape products to other categories such as flower and pre-rolls.
Jerina Pillert, co-owner and chief operating officer of Hashtag Cannabis, a retail store in Redmond and Fremont, Washington, said customers recently have been asking what’s in her store’s vape products, how they’re tested and if they’re safe.
“We are getting a lot of questions about the issues that are happening nationwide,” she added. “We’ve been telling our customers that we share their concerns and we have testing results for each product we carry at both stores if they ever want to see it.”
Pillert is confident that what she’s selling is safe for two reasons:
- The vast majority of the vape products contain only cannabis.
- Washington state has a rigorous seed-to-sale tracking system.
At Pepe Breton’s retail cannabis store Euflora in Denver, about two or three out of every 100 customers are wary of vaporizers.
“We’ve had a few people that said they were going to stay away from vaporizers for the moment and they were going back to flower,” Breton said.
Euflora sells flavored and unflavored vape products. Some consumers are aware additives may be causing people to get sick and they’re avoiding those additives, he added.
“One of the things we noticed is that people are leaning more toward the unflavored, pure oil,” Breton said.
Aaron Varney, director of Dockside Cannabis with stores in Seattle and Shoreline, Washington, said concerns are heightened among shoppers.
“For people coming in, there’s definitely been more questions and more interest,” he said, noting that the health concerns haven’t slowed sales much.
“We only had one person out of thousands of visits return their (vape) cartridge out of a super abundance of caution.”
Varney said his stores don’t carry vape cartridges that are cut, or diluted, with propylene glycol or other additives.
“It’s been something we’ve strayed away from for a long time,” he added.
Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]
Bart Schaneman can be reached at [email protected]