Pre-Rolls Chasing Flower, Vape Pens in Popularity

Growth in pre-roll sales is outstripping other product categories.

Pre-rolled joints as a marijuana product category have been surging recently as consumer habits continue to morph, according to a new report from Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm Headset.

Although pre-rolls remain the third most popular marijuana product type in the U.S. – trailing old-fashioned flower and newer disposable vape pens – they’ve moved into second place in Canada. And growth in the category “vastly outperform(ed) other cannabis product categories,” Headset found, growing 13.4% in the U.S. and 36.5% in Canada.

By comparison, other product category sales in the U.S. shrank by 1.2%, and in Canada other product sales grew just 4.8%.

“Pre-rolls have exploded in popularity since the start of 2022,” Headset reported. “Even after a sustained period of strong growth, there is still a lot of opportunity for this category.”

As of August, pre-rolls accounted for 13.5% of total cannabis sales in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, according to Headset data.

In Canada, pre-rolls did even better that month, with an eye-popping 33.3% of sales nationally, a 60.5% increase in market share since January 2022. A key contributor likely is the 335% increase in the number of brands producing pre-rolls, which went from 95 brands in Aug. 2020 to 413 brands this past summer.

“If the trend continues pre-rolls could dethrone classic flower as the most popular cannabis format for the first time ever,” Headset asserted.

The brand expansion has not been as dramatic in the U.S., with pre-roll brands up 45% since 2020 but down 7.4% this year.

Still, the analytics firm argued that pre-roll popularity is still very much on the rise in the U.S., especially in relatively young recreational state markets such as Illinois and Maryland, where pre-rolls capture less than 10% of total sales.

In more mature markets, such as California and Massachusetts, pre-rolls are creeping up near 20% of total marijuana product sales. In California, pre-rolls are just under 17% of total product sales this year, and in Massachusetts it’s more than 18%.

“While it may seem that opportunity has plateaued for pre-rolls in the U.S., that may not be the case. The drop in the number of brands in the category may just be a reflection of difficult market conditions in established U.S. markets,” Headset wrote. “While many companies are falling out of the category, pre-rolls are still outperforming the rest of the market when it comes to total sales growth.”

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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