There’s an old saying that ‘all politics is local’ and it turns out the same goes for marijuana prices. A new report from cannabis data company Headset looked at pricing trends from four key states that have fully legalized cannabis including two states with mature sales data and two fairly new states.
The study examines average item prices throughout 2018 and for the first two months of 2019. The sales data comes from customers who participate in store loyalty programs, as well as the $4.5 billion in transactions that Headset tracks.
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The general rule of thumb is that California prices are high by all measurements and Washington has the lowest prices in the country. However, that isn’t the end of the story. California’s adult use sales are fairly young and with the changes in regulations last summer, the market changed dramatically. The report notes, “You might think Colorado’s vertical integration would drive the price down…but it seems to actually keep prices higher.” Various taxes within each state and the age group of consumers also affects the data for prices paid.
Headset found that the average item price (AIP) across California, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado ranged from $15-$30. States with the most mature markets had the lowest prices. Washington state started out with high prices, but the prices dropped as competition and supply drove them down and at this point, there is really no room from more price reduction. Prices in Nevada also fell as the market matured except for certain products. California’s average prices jumped by $5, but it is expected that eventually, the state’s prices will fall.
Vapes Are Pricey
Vape pens are the most popular cannabis category and the most expensive. The AIP is approximately $43. Apparently, vape pens are not as easy to buy in the illicit market which removes that level of competition keeping prices high. Nevada is the highest priced state with an AIP that comes in at $48. Headset suggests that the state knows it is mostly dealing in tourist trade and able to keep prices high.
The report did a deeper dive into the vape pen price per gram and again Nevada’s is the highest with a whopping $96 price per gram for vape pens. The lowest is Washington’s, whose AIP for vape pens is $25, but the price per gram for the pen is $36, almost three times lower than Nevada.
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The price per gram measurement works well for other smokable forms like flower, pre-rolls or concentrates. Nevada is, once again, the most expensive at a price per gram for flower of $13.70 and $14 for pre-rolls. Colorado has the cheapest flower at $4.60 and Washington has the cheapest pre-roll at $5.50 per gram.
When it comes to other form factors that aren’t smoked like edibles, beverages, tinctures or capsules, the measurement is milligrams per THC. In this category, the states are very close in price with only cents separating the expensive from the cheap.
Millennials Are Bargain Shoppers
Older people with more disposable income are willing to pay higher prices for cannabis products versus millennials and post-millennials. The younger group spends on average 20% less on single grams, while baby boomers will pay 10% above the average. The younger group is willing to buy in bulk if they think they can get a good price. They are bargain shoppers. Headset thinks bulk packaging could become an important market as more millennials push for value shopping.
The report suggests that AIP isn’t the only metric to watch to see where prices are headed. They say watch the price per gram and the package size.