Cannabis Vapes Becoming Dominant Force on Dispensary Shelves

Vapes were the second-most popular cannabis category, behind only flower.

Vape pens are becoming evermore popular in cannabis land due to their convenience, ease of use, and discreetness.

The category is one of the most in-demand these days with sales increasing steadily over the years, according to a report by Headset, “A look at Cannabis Vapor Pen sales trends.”

In 2022, the top three product categories accounted for 76.4% of the total sales, with flower being the most popular category by far at 40.5%. Vapor pens were the second most popular category at 23.6%, followed by pre-rolls with 12.3%.

Among U.S. states, Illinois had the largest market share of vapes, with 27.4% of the total sales in 2022 – followed closely by Florida and California at 25.4% and 25%, respectively.

Even states with the lowest representation of vapes had the product category still making up a significant portion of overall sales:

  • Michigan (20.6%)
  • Massachusetts (19.8%)
  • Oregon (19.2%)

Cartridges are by far the most popular product type, though disposables are on the rise as recreational programs open and casual consumers search for the convenience of not having to buy a battery to go with their cart.

Live rosin vapes are also increasing in popularity as dispensaries create more awareness around solventless cannabis products. Live resin is made using light hydrocarbon solvents like butane and propane, whereas live rosin is produced through a solventless process.

While growing U.S. emerging markets and Canadian markets have shown a steady trajectory, others have been slowing down in recent years.

Market saturation and increased competition from other cannabis products, such as edibles and tinctures, as well all-time low flower prices have pumped the brakes a bit in legacy states.

Pre-rolls have also been on the steady climb as consumers become more drawn to the convenience of flower rolled and ready to smoke.

Vapes aren’t immune to price compression, and unless one is purchasing in a new emerging rec market with higher pricing such as New Jersey, customers are generally paying $25-$50 for half gram or full gram cartridges.

A win for consumers during an inflationary era, though businesses lose the margins in the end.

Rise of Concentrates

Another factor contributing to the growth of the cannabis vape market is the increasing popularity of cannabis concentrates.

Concentrates are highly potent forms of cannabis that can be vaporized using a pen. These products appeal to many consumers because they offer a more intense and longer-lasting high than traditional cannabis flower.

However, the growing popularity of cannabis vape pens has also raised concerns about their safety.

In 2019, there was a significant increase in cases of lung illness associated with the use of vapes containing vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent used in some illicit cannabis products. This led to a temporary decline in the sales of cannabis vapes, as consumers became more cautious about the products they were using.

To address these concerns, many legal cannabis markets implemented stricter regulations on vapor pen products. For example, California requires all cannabis vapes to undergo rigorous testing for contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides.

Other states have outright banned the use of certain additives in vape products.

Headset predicted that sales of vapes will continue to increase, with new product innovations and expanding legalization driving growth in the industry. However, the market could always face challenges from creeping competition and future regulatory changes.

“Even in a tough macroeconomic climate, we’ve seen total sales, market share, and brand count grow across most markets,” the report wrote.

“Generally, vapor pens have proven to be a resilient product category and we’ll likely see continued growth in the future as a younger generation of consumers ages into the market.”

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at

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