Legalized cannabis in a state by state level has created more noise than necessary, especially about pricing, and compromise profit margins. Divergent state laws govern this fact; not a single gram can legally cross state lines. Unsurprisingly, markets have evolved considerable differences even as they’ve developed side by side. Meanwhile, the black market is getting richer, controlling over 90 percent of the market with less noise.
Our “need to know” has expanded our database to include price variables across state markets. Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and California have been the most “public” about information disclosure in tracing price trends across various product categories. Of the four states our SP+GTM algorithm looked at, Washington had the lowest average price per cannabis product by offering the cheapest average gram in terms of concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens. A gram of cannabis flower runs an average of $4.70 in Washington. Incidentally, on the first day of legal cannabis sales in Washington state, a gram of cannabis sold for $30. Wow! As we predicted, the precipitate drop in price can be traced to Washington’s 37% cannabis excise tax -- one of the highest in the nation.
Indeed, Washington is complicated: Thousands of distinct cannabis brands and a ‘tiered house’ market system that gives retailers the power to play the supply/demand price game. Meanwhile, Colorado’s system allows for vertical integration, so even though it has seen prices come down over the years, the brand landscape is less hotly contested.
If Washington offers the lowest average cannabis price of the four states, Nevada boasts the highest. The state had the highest average price per gram across the flower, concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens. Tourism might account for some of Nevada’s premium pricing. Vape pens, which are particularly popular among out-of-towners and casual consumers, were considerably more expensive in Nevada than in any other state. The average price per gram for vape carts in Nevada was $96—nearly triple Washington’s average of $36.
California reigns supreme when it comes to average product price, although part of that has to do with what products retailers choose to carry. The average item price is $30.90, which is more than double Washington’s average of $15.33. Some of the difference is the result of increased compliance costs that came with California’s recent transition to a regulated market. In California, which just came online in 2018, the average item price has gone up by $5.
Price trends in non-inhalable products—including infused beverages, edibles, capsules, tinctures, and topicals— are muddled. Our data confirmed evaluated price per milligram of THC in these products didn’t equate to higher prices. Nevada, for example, is still on the expensive side in terms of beverages, edibles, capsules, and topicals—but it had the lowest average price when it came to tinctures. And despite California’s high average item price, the Golden State has the lowest-priced edibles of any state our data suggested.
Bottom line: The only entities making money are the states’ tax collectors and the black-market sellers. The “want-to-bees” are treading water and living off “angle” money from uninformed shareholders who failed to see the direction of the bouncing ball. Our collective data predicts more trouble ahead for public shareholders and private investors.
The approach at FJC is to gather information, assess trends and verify entrance points; not to commit fixed asset dollars to shrink values based on misconstrued inclinations. The proof of our philosophy is clearly evident by the action in the stock market of public companies fighting to survive the “cannabis bubble” with overcapitalized share values and negative cash flows – in fact, if you remove public shareholder funding and private loans, all cannabis companies, whether public or private have negative cash flows.