Posted by Derek Champoux
3 years ago / October 21, 2019
Emerging Cannabis Categories: Vaping vs Edibles vs Beverages
Smoking’s long-standing dominance of cannabis consumption is coming to an end. Today’s legal cannabis market is demanding safer, higher quality products. To meet those demands, consumers are making the switch from cannabis flower products to distillates and oils.
These new products make up the fastest-growing segments in the industry. The emerging cannabis categories are preparing to surpass smoking:
These segments are relatively new to most markets and just became legal in Canada as of October 2019 (and will be on the market within the year). To help introduce you, we prepared a quick comparison between vaping, edibles, and beverages.
Cannabis Vapor Pens
Of these three categories, vapor pens are the fastest growing trend in cannabis. Their quality is unmatched among other cannabis products, offering superior control and consistency. As well, their pen-like shape offers a familiar feel to people who’ve handled joints or cigarettes.
The vape pen is filled with a cannabis oil cartridge. When activated, an atomizer heats the oil, releasing a rich, flavorful vapor. The vapor is better tasting and is safer than smoking cannabis.
Vapor pens are easy-to-use, users simply inhale through the mouthpiece to activate.
Edibles are cannabis-infused foods, like gummies and brownies. They’re popular among people who don’t like the taste of cannabis or the experience of inhaling it. In medical use, people who have difficulty with things like rolling a joint or handling a vape may use edibles instead.
Like vaping cannabis, consuming edibles is a safer alternative to smoking.
Part of the reason for the delay in selling baked edibles is the difficulty in measuring and controlling dosages. Cannabis oil in tinctures and capsules are easier to control.
Cannabis-infused drinks, or drinkables, also technically fall under the umbrella of edibles. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as liquid edibles. The dosages in drinkables are a little easier to measure, but the effects are less predictable than vaping.
Although the beverages have generated a lot of discussion, they are losing ground to vapes and edibles. Thus far, drinkables have not yet seen the rapid market share growth of other cannabis products. But that may change as news outlets suggest that, unlike edibles and vapor pens, drinkable THC could put a dent in alcohol sales.
Currently, drinkables have faced their own challenges, namely difficulties in flavor-quality. Granted these obstacles will likely be overcome in the near future. Drinkables have some potential advantages over edibles as well. They are a healthier alternative the sugary junk foods typical of edibles, and their effects kick in quicker. Estimates predict global sales of cannabis-infused drinks will surpass $200 million US in 2019, a 30% increase over 2018.
Although vape pens continue to dominate these emerging categories, drinkables and edibles remain a significant new market.
Cannabis Vaping vs Edibles vs Drinkables
To compare cannabis vape pens, edibles, and drinkables we look at 5 factors to see how they stack up:
Whether you smoke, vape, drink or eat your cannabis, flavor is a major factor in enjoyment. Of course, preferences in taste differ a bit from person to person, but we can offer some general insights.
For those who like the taste of cannabis, vapor pens offer the best flavor. They provide a clean burn with richly flavored vapor. This allows users to enjoy the purest cannabis taste without the burnt flavor of smoking. There’s a reason that cannabis sommeliers use vape pens.
For those who prefer to mask the taste of cannabis, edibles may be the ideal option. Sweets like brownies can overpower the cannabis flavor. Although getting the right ratio for this can be tricky. Alternatively, bitter flavors, like grapefruit can balance more sour-tasting cannabis.
Beverages fall comfortably into last place for flavor. Currently, many consumers find that the taste is too bitter. Although a better-tasting formula will surely be found eventually, drinkables aren’t yet there.
Convenience is another important factor when comparing cannabis options. Portability, availability, and ease are all worthy of consideration. Carrying, storing, and using the product shouldn’t be a chore.
Vapor pens are the go-to option for this category. They are highly portable, comfortably fitting in your pocket. As well, high-quality vape pen batteries ensure your charge outlasts the oil cartridge. Disposable vape pens come precharged and ready for immediate use, and operation is as simple as inhaling on the mouthpiece.
Edibles offer a fair degree of convenience, but depending on the edible, it may require refrigeration. And, of course, if you’re making them yourself, there’s a lot of prep time. Although some edibles, like gummies, are easier to carry around and store, they take up a lot more space than a vape pen.
Cannabis-infused beverages take up a lot more space than vaporizers and edibles, but they, too, require refrigeration after opening. Ultimately, all three are fairly convenient, but none match the portability of vape pens.
One of the biggest factors for consistency is control. Without adequate control, it’s hard to deliver a consistent, predictable experience between uses. Unpredictable results are bad for both cannabis suppliers and users. It makes it harder to achieve the results you want and to predict the effects.
With control over the timing and temperature of cannabis oils in a controlled cartridge, vape pens can offer the greatest consistency. With the best vape pens, users know that each puff will deliver the same results, making it easy to know how much to use.
Drinkables are the next best option as the mixture is a little more consistent than edibles. Edibles, however, especially in baked goods, can offer less control. It’s harder for edible mixtures to maintain a consistent ratio throughout the batch.
For as many different ways as there are to consume marijuana, there is just as much variance in how long it takes their effects to kick in. Effects that take a long time are problematic for recreational and medical use. For medical use, it means taking longer to relieve pain or anxiety.
For recreational use, a long wait for the effects makes dosing difficult. People often take extra doses when the effects haven’t yet set in from the first dose. This can lead to an unpleasant, overwhelming high.
On the flip side, people can get frustrated if they wait it out and realize they took too low of a dose. Still, it’s recommended to start low and work your way up.
It’s easier to manage your high with vape pens. This is because vaporizing cannabis oils provide faster effects than ingesting. Effects are often felt between 0 to 15 minutes, so it’s easier to self-regulate.
Edibles have a longer timespan, often taking 60-90 minutes to kick-in. Cannabis-infused beverages are even less predictable with effects taking anywhere from 15 to 120 minutes.
When new users enter a cannabis store, the options are overwhelming. With all the different options and pricing, it’s hard to determine value. Although the doses are shown on the packaging, they aren’t equal between all consumption methods. The more efficient the method, the more you can get out of it.
For example, even with the same THC & CBD ratios, 20mg of cannabis oil used in a baked edible isn’t equal to 20mg of cannabis oil in a vapor pen. During the process of making edibles, anywhere from 44-98% of the THC is lost.
Vape pens, however, are extremely efficient. They are even more efficient than smoking. As a result, a single .5ml disposable vape lasts about 225 puffs. The same amount of oil used in cooking produces a far more limited quantity of edibles, with much greater THC loss.
For efficiency, drinkables fair better than edibles, with 25-50% of THC lost. Although not as efficient as vaping, they are more efficient than edibles.
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