The cannabis concentrate sector is quickly growing in every legal cannabis market. These products, including oil, hash, and wax products, retain no plant fiber and can be consumed in a variety of methods, including by vaporizer, oil rig, and gel caps.
Concentrates have emerged as highly-popular cannabis products because of their potency and versatility. As a sector, concentrates are growing faster than any other product in the cannabis industry, with sales skyrocketing year over year. Here’s a look at how concentrates are made and what’s driving their popularity.
Concentrates contain high percentages of either the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or the therapeutic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). Well-crafted concentrates are similar in taste, smell, and effect as the original strain from which they are made. Each of these traits are amplified, however, because there is a larger concentration by weight of cannabinoids and terpenes, which give cannabis strains their aroma and taste.
There are a wide variety of concentrates and each one has its own method of extraction. Hash, one of the oldest forms of cannabis concentrate, is created by way of ice water extraction. This method involves stripping away THC-rich trichomes from buds, plant material, and finely ground “kief” leftover from buds, and then compressing it into a brick of hash. The result is a potent block of densely-packed trichomes.
A cannabis concentrate can also come in the form of butane hash oil, which uses butane as the primary solvent. When made properly, butane hash oil is extremely potent in THC and highly pure, free of trace amounts of butane and other contaminants. For patients, butane hash oil appears effective for treating chronic pain, sleep disorders, and inducing appetite.
Extractors also produce supercritical CO2 oil, created using pressurized carbon dioxide as a solvent. The pressurized CO2 is pumped through a filter and separated from plant matter, where it then dissolves, leaving behind a potent oil. This oil is highly pure because CO2 leaves no contaminants or residues behind.
For adult-use markets, concentrates represent a pure and potent form of users’ favorite cannabis strains. They act fast, replicating and amplifying the effects of the strain from which they were derived. Well-crafted concentrates also preserve the terpene profile of the original strain, giving it the same aroma and taste as if users were imbibing the flower, without combusting organic material.
For patients, high-CBD concentrates in particular are sought after as potential treatment for an array of symptoms. Some use cannabis oils and other concentrates as a sustainable, healthier way to manage pain. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment sometimes use concentrates to help with nausea and appetite, and gain a restful sleep when the side effects of their treatment become too much to bear. People with epilepsy often use cannabis extracts to help control their seizures. The list of CBD’s potential benefits goes on and on, from fighting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to helping manage anxiety and depression.
Concentrates are poised to lead the entire cannabis industry, thanks to the improvements in product manufacturing, the increased availability of vaporizer technology, and growing demand for an ultra-potent cannabis product.
According to BDS Analytics, in the past three years the cannabis concentrate sector has seen the most growth of cannabis products in terms of dollar sales. In 2016, concentrates sales in just Colorado, Oregon, and Washington totaled nearly $500 million.
But that’s just the beginning. In 2017, national sales of cannabis concentrate products rose by 50%. At the same time, sales of flower (the current overall market leader) steadily declined. In turn, that trend boosts the prospects of the cannabis concentrate sector; wholesale flower prices are declining, meaning extraction companies can buy more for less, and realize a higher return on investment by producing value-added concentrate products. In other words, the concentrates market isn’t just strong, it’s becoming a pillar of the industry.
Every sector of the cannabis industry is experiencing rapid growth, but no other class of products is increasing sales more quickly than concentrates. Between patients in need, adult-use sales, and a continuous stream of innovative products from extraction companies, the concentrates market has a bright future.