Studies, polls, word on the street: All make clear one fact – folks love vaping. It seems they cannot put them down, especially in California. Vapes are among the most popular searches next to “weed delivery near me.” Vaping sales, particularly those infused with potent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, shrugged off last year’s entire illegal vaping record, which has a long and crisis-level history of harming lungs. Keep in mind, we are talking about the unlicensed and illegal vape products in the United States.
Vaping-associated pulmonary injuries, a condition dubbed EVALI by authorities, are wreaking havoc in vaping communities. Despite this, and two waves of lockdown-inducing COVID-19 this year, vape sales are matching last year’s highs, even seem set to surpass them shortly. Even with these risks, sales of vaping cartridges, pens, and accessories are on the ever-increasing rise. Should this worry you?
Loved to Fault
The convenience of vaping is just too practical. It also resolves two of the biggest issues facing cannabis users everywhere, which are trying to dose accurately and not smell too much like weed. What is more, vapes are portable. They are discreet. They are effective, they work quickly, and they promise a horde of benefits. However, no quality control exists in the illicit market. As a result, folks are dying.
EVAPI is not contagious. It is not infectious. Not transmissible. Instead, after investigation into what was causing the pulmonary injuries associated with EVAPI, scientists identified toxic cutting agents as responsible, particularly the abundance of them found in illegal cartridges. To cut corners and boost profits, unlicensed factories use more and more dietary oils and cosmetic creams to dilute any THC oil.
Of the toxic, oily, heavy thickeners lurking in illegal vapes, squalene and vitamin E oil seem the most prominent. Because of testing regulations, legal markets offer much safer vapes, up to 10 times safer than illicit markets. EVALI continued well into 2020, perhaps not as much, or perhaps out shadowed by COVID-19. The fact it is still occurring, however, remains vitally important for vapers everywhere.
As long as the illegal market contains untested vaping cartridges, and for as long as folks buy them, many will succumb to the dangerous cocktail of drugs, heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, and cutting agents that they contain. In the legal California market, state law mandates independent laboratory testing of all products sold. This makes consumers feel safe, and it removes these harmful substances from market.
More Popular Than Before
While studying sales trends in five legal states, Colorado-based BDS Analytics found vaping sales peaking during July 2019 at $160 million. Just vapes. By October, it fell to $126 million. When COVID-19 arrived, vape sales were flat, having dropped in April to a new low of $117 million. However, now it is end October. Vape products are already at $160 million and moving far beyond, surpassing all prior records.
Cannabis sales are skyrocketing. All products are enjoying surging popularity, but vapes are special, up a whopping 89 percent already from the low in September last year. In fact, vaping cartridges, e-pens, and all other vapes and vaping accessories are nearing the most popular of all weed products this year. They make one-fifth of marijuana delivery orders, with a monthly seven percent growth rate, second to bud.
Most polls find more than 66 percent of folks in favor of full cannabis legalization. Part of this support is because legal markets come regulated, often with the strictest public safety laws. When it comes to pesticides, for example, the best quality vapes test cleaner than organic vegetables, as they should. Finally, folks are learning that quality matters when it comes to respiratory health.
Now, with coronaviruses changing consumer habits, surveys show folks becoming increasingly suspicious of strange and unknown, unlicensed brands. Credible brands, those licensed with a network of happy customers, suffered initial losses when EVAPI hit. However, all report major recovery and even an unprecedented surge in new sales. Consumer focus is shifting toward quality.
Folks want transparency. They want brands that openly guarantee and take active steps to prioritize their health and safety. If EVAPI is informing consumer behavior in any way, it is teaching folks about healthier choices. Once consumers realized that EVAPI was an illicit market issue, not one afflicting the regulated one, sales quickly rebounded. People love vaping for its many other, mostly practical, benefits.
However, the return of consumers came with renewed focus, both from suppliers and from consumers themselves, who now actively seek quality foremost. Sales died last year as confusion and fear around EVALI kept consumers insecure and shopping elsewhere, but now that we know the danger lies in untested products, the legal vaping marketplace is enjoying an invigorating new chapter.
Vapes Still Scarce Some Places
Vapes appear missing in action across college towns and other small tourist destinations across the United States. Nevada’s vape market has yet to recover from COVID-19, with a collapse of tourism halving vape sales in the Sin City. In Berkeley, vape sales are making a recovery, albeit it slowly. The college crowd has yet to return. All is quiet on the vaping front.
Cannabis sales continue to skyrocket, with vaping sales higher than before in major metros, but in smaller ones, the demand for vapes has been declining. COVID-19 is largely responsible for this, including the closing of universities, but real assessment of the situation is tricky at this time. Edibles are gaining in popularity, more so than any other cannabis product, mostly because you do not smoke them.
A simple Google search for “weed delivery near me” will give you several trusted companies for vaping supplies. However, flower is even bigger. Vape sales might well be surpassing earlier highs, but they remain a small slice of exploding cannabis sales. Lockdowns, staycations, stimulus checks, election anxiety, rioting, and other stresses are boosting weed sales throughout the United States.
Everywhere, buds have the leading market share. What is more, consumers are turning away from flavored, man-interfered buds and back toward natural, more old-school flowers, those that contain long-term health benefits. Flower sales include bud-based vaporizers, which heat the flower gently, enough to release its vapors, instead of burning it.
Interestingly, while cannabis sales are imploding with folks staying at home for lengthy periods, the demand for vapes remains steadfastly high, particularly for loose-leaf vaporizers. This was true pre-catastrophes, highlighting the fact that while consumers love the ritualistic experience of flower, they are increasingly favoring vaping over combustion.