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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. April pot sales in five states fell 2.2 pct below March despite 4/20 celebration
  2. Year-over-year cannabis sales in five states surge 13 pct in April
  3. Cannabis retail Price Index falls 6.4 pct in April 2019 vs April 2018

U.S. cannabis sales in the country’s most mature markets fell month-over-month in April as prices extended their decline, while volumes were steady, even as that month’s annual 4/20 celebration saw the biggest single-day purchases of the year so far, BDS Analytics data show.

Pot sales in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – which make up more than half the legal cannabis purchases in the United States – reached US$574.39-million in April, BDS data show.

This is down 2.2 per cent from March but up 12.9 per cent from April 2018.

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“Despite 4/20 being the largest single-day of sales for the year, April sales historically dip from March and this past year the trend was no different,” BDS said.

“This year, ‘420’ fell on a Friday and compared to the typical Friday, sales were 120 per cent higher. Despite the boost from ‘420’, the volume of sales in April remain even from the trailing month and increased discounting resulted in lower revenues.”

The BDS Analytics Cannabis Retail Price Index (CPI), which gathers data from Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon, shows prices fell to 96.68 in April, down 3.2 per cent from March and down 6.4 per cent from April 2018. This contributed to the average 3 per cent decline in all product category sales in these four states that account for roughly 55 per cent of the country’s legal marijuana sales.

This is in stark contrast to price activity in Canada, where national supplies remain well below demand and are supporting retail prices. The average online price for dried flower in five provinces rose to $10.42 per gram in May, up 82 basis points from mid-April, according to a survey conducted by Cowen Equity Research.

With Canada’s retail pot business in its infancy following legalization in October, 2018, many working in the nascent industry look to states such as Colorado and Oregon, where cannabis has been legal at the state level for years, for indications on the direction that sales will go here.

Of the six product categories that are closely followed by BDS, the only one to experience a month-over-month sales increase in April was pre-rolls, which rose to $35.56-million versus $35.06-million the month prior.

Retailers in Canada have said that pre-rolls – historically called “joints” – are one of their top selling items, though licensed producers are not yet offering enough to keep up with consumer demand.

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Month-over-month U.S. sales for ingestibles, topicals, dried flower, “vape”, and solid concentrates all fell in April. When comparing year-over-year sales from April 2018, however, sales in every product category rose substantially with the exception of dried flower, which inched down 0.2 per cent to US$182.64-million in April 2019.

When edible cannabis products are legalized in Canada later this year, these new products are widely expected to take a bite out of the large dried flower category.

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