Vape shops have always been marketed as an alternative to tobacco. But even as the practice of vaping becomes mainstream, vape shop owners did not expect the influx of customers coming from the local medical marijuana industry.
“Sales are going really well, and getting better every month,” said Jen Osmun, who opened Grassy Plain Vape & Smoke in Bethel, Connecticut, together with her husband, Matt. Most of the vape shop’s customers are people who want to quit tobacco smoking, but a growing number are coming from medical marijuana shops around their neighborhood.
The Osmuns’ vape shop is not the only one cashing in on the trend. Bigger vape shops, like Oklahoma-based Palm Beach Vapors, hope to capitalize on sales for medical marijuana users.
“We think the cannabis market will mimic and mirror the tobacco market,” said Chip Paul, owner and CEO of Palm Beach Vapors. “We think they will see this as a safer alternative.”
Why marijuana users love vaping
According to vape shop owners, many of their medical marijuana-related customers are older non-smokers suffering from serious illnesses. These patients prefer using vaping devices for marijuana rather than simply smoking it since they believe that vaping lowers the risks of side effects. The cannabis leaves in a vape device are often heated to a lower temperature than what is required for combustion.
“Vaporized cannabis is a really significant trend in both medical and adult use,” said cannabis consultant Christie Lunsford. “It’s consistent, it’s almost instantaneous, and it’s appropriate for a wide variety of consumers.”
Another one of the advantages of using vaping devices is that they can provide medical marijuana users with much-needed privacy, since the vapor released by these devices is almost odorless. Many users don’t want to be associated with recreational marijuana and prefer to remain anonymous. More often than not, they’d rather not even be seen with their cars in a marijuana dispensary parking lot.
Kevin Cintorino, owner of vape shop Elevated in Providence, Rhode Island, believes that vaping can pave the way for medical marijuana users to avoid the stigma and bond together. His plan was for his shop to become a place where medical marijuana users gather to vape.
“Why not open a place where we could get the entire patient community together?” he said.
Medical marijuana set for growth
Many entrepreneurs are now investing on legal marijuana because of its potentially lucrative market. According to market research firm IBISWorld, projected sales for medical marijuana can increase from $3.6 billion in 2015 to $13.4 billion by 2020.
GreenWave Advisors, another industry research firm, estimates that sales on both medical and recreational marijuana can top $35 billion in 2020 if all 50 states legalize the substance. Demand would come from the aging population suffering from painful conditions like arthritis, glaucoma, and cancer. At present, only 23 states and the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana use.
On the other hand, most vape shops are still mom-and-pop operations. But with the rising sales from medical marijuana users, it looks like they are in the right position to cash in on the trend.
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