Come and Get It: The Latest Consumer Preferences for Weed
“If you want it, here it is, come and get it, mmh, make your mind up fast. If you want it, any time, I can give it, but you’d better hurry ’cause it may not last. Did I hear you say that there must be a catch?”
Those are lyrics from the 1970 song “Come and Get it,” by the now-defunct rock group Badfinger. You don’t need a PhD in musicology to figure out that the song is about marijuana.
Back when I was a young scofflaw in the 1970s, when Badfinger was topping the charts, buying marijuana was a furtive, blackmarket endeavor that could easily get you arrested. Nowadays in most places in the U.S., procuring weed is akin to buying bread or milk.
However, for consumers not accustomed to buying marijuana when it was universally illicit, the product choices differ from those who are cannabis veterans. That’s among the findings of a new report released September 5.
The report examines the hurdles that still face the marijuana industry; it also provides an updated review of consumer preferences among the various types of cannabis products. Below, I examine the data highlights and what they mean for investors.
But first, let’s tip our hats to a change in federal policy that has provided a bullish catalyst for marijuana investments across the board.
It was a long time in coming, but the nation’s top public health agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recommended on August 30 to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that marijuana get rescheduled from a Schedule I controlled substance to a more leniently regulated Schedule III.
Marijuana equities as a whole soared on the news, including several of the portfolio holdings in my premium trading service, Marijuana Profit Alert.
To give you an idea of the momentous nature of this policy shift, Schedule I includes heroin; Schedule III includes Tylenol with codeine. DEA isn’t required to follow the HHS recommendation, but in the 50-year context of the vicious and failed War on Drugs, the notion of rescheduling pot is a paradigm shift.
However, although the long-term future for cannabis investments remains bright, obstacles remain. The report, released Tuesday by the research group New Frontier Data, asserts:
“Even though it may feel like ages ago when the only options for purchasing cannabis were baggies of unknown flower, it takes people quite a while to adjust to a new way of engaging in commerce…
“For many cannabis consumers, the defaults of product choice are potency and price, reminiscent of how people purchased cannabis when it was illegal. This makes it difficult for retailers and brands to forecast which products will be a hit, and whether consumers are ready for novel delivery methods like beverages, or whether they will respond to products with minor cannabinoids or lower potency.”
The New Frontier report found that more than 60% of current cannabis consumers choose mostly the flower form, but when researchers asked non-consumers who are maintaining an open mind about trying cannabis, over 70% reported that they would pick edibles (see infographic):
“Flower” refers to the crushed leaves of a cannabis plant. Flower is versatile, easy to use, and tactile. Flower can be rolled into a joint or blunt; it can be inserted into a pipe, bong or food recipe. Flower is the classic product that’s associated with the bygone counterculture and its popularity among pot users has endured to this day.
The report’s interviews with respondents reveals a cultural contrast between those who purchased marijuana decades ago when it was taboo (i.e. today’s flower buyers), and those who are willing to join the world of weed when it’s a fully legalized and regulated marketplace (i.e. those with a stated preference for the less-intimidating choice of edibles).
As marijuana legal reform gains traction and cannabis use increasingly becomes commonplace, we’re seeing greater standardization and regulation in the edibles space, which in turn is making edibles more socially acceptable.
Many ordinarily straightlaced Americans casually pop marijuana edibles into their mouths as if they were simply eating candy with a “kick.” I saw this phenomenon firsthand during the Labor Day holiday this past weekend, as family members passed around cannabis edibles as if they were Milk Duds.
I was born and raised in New England, but I currently live in Maryland. And it’s worth noting that marijuana retailers in Maryland broke another sales record last month, selling nearly $92 million worth of products during August, the state’s second month of legal adult-use (aka recreational) sales.
The August sales figure is a dramatic increase from July’s $87 million and more than double the typical sales levels from when the Maryland marijuana market was legal only for medical patients.
The Maryland Cannabis Administration recently reported that licensed stores in the state sold more than $91.7 million last month, the majority in the form of smokeable flower ($55.1 million). After that came concentrates ($24.7 million); THC-infused edibles ($6.2 million); THC-infused non-edibles ($5.2 million); trim and shake, i.e. small broken-off pieces from flower buds ($512,991); and whole cannabis plants ($9,588).
As I’ve just explained, marijuana is a promising growth industry. However, because of the ever-changing legal landscape, the sector is inherently volatile. Before devoting your money to a pot stock, you need to conduct due diligence.
That’s where my publication, Marijuana Profit Alert, comes in. By applying my proprietary screening methodologies, I pinpoint for subscribers the most attractive plays on the “green rush.” To learn more, click here.
John Persinos is the chief investment strategist of Marijuana Profit Alert.