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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. iAnthus Q3 wholesale seen down partly due to weaker Massachusetts sales where vaping is banned
  2. B.C. proposes to raise vaping tax ahead ahead of cannabis vape product launches
  3. Vaping illnesses could benefit legal sales in Canada due to trust in regulated products

Health fears around vaporizers have hurt producers’ sales in the United States just as Canadian companies prepare to launch the country’s first legal vape products, and the industry will likely face even more headwinds in Canada as at least two provinces introduce restrictions designed to reduce vaping.

Quebec reportedly said it will not permit vaping products for now, and British Columbia proposed adding a 20 per cent tax on vaping products. Both moves threaten to limit Canadian sales of vaporizers, which have otherwise been expected to increase revenues and gross margins for licensed producers (LPs) and retailers alike.

Last week, U.S. cannabis producer and multi-state operator iAnthus reported “a fairly material 17 per cent” decline in its third-quarter wholesale business due in part “to weaker sales in Massachusetts related to the ban in vaping products,” said Echelon Wealth Partners in a note.

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TerrAscend Corp.’s recent third-quarter report showed its hemp CBD sales were little changed from the prior quarter, indicating vaporizer health concerns.

“Given the positive growth of TER’s end-markets for THC in the US during Q3, we view this as pointing to weaker hemp CBD sales, likely impacted by lingering consumer fears in the c-store/vape shop channel over product safety,” said GMP Equity Research in a report.

“Hence, we’ve slightly reduced our short-term forecasts for TER’s hemp CBD sales, however we expect the impact to be transitory as THC vape demand has already rebounded in the dispensary channel following clarifying comments from the CDC, which we expect should follow suite for hemp CBD.”

As of Nov. 20, More than 2,290 people in the United States have become sick from a vaping-related lung illness and 47 have died, largely from using vapes sold on the illicit market. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified vitamin E acetate as a “chemical of concern.”

Vitamin E acetate is not permitted in Canadian cannabis vaporizers.

Vaporizer sales in five of the biggest U.S. states where cannabis is legal declined by more than 20 per cent in September as hundreds in the United States reported vape-related lung illnesses, BDS Analytics data show.

To be sure, data in states where cannabis is legal shows month-over-month sales declined in September but remained on a year-over-year growth trajectory when compared with year-ago figures.

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Month-over-month sales of legal cannabis vaporizer products in some states are starting to show signs of recovery, but at least two states have banned sales until further notice. Massachusetts and Michigan have placed temporary bans on vaping products due to the related illnesses.

Consumer’s concerns about inhaling vaporized cannabinoids, after thousands became sick and 47 died from a vape-related lung illness from largely illicit products in the United States, hurt sales in the legal industry and caused some revenues to drop in September.

All of this comes as licensed producers and retailers look to benefit from the higher gross margins that are expected from value-added products such as cannabis vaporizers as a slew of newly legalized products await Health Canada approval.

Meanwhile, there is concern that moves by Quebec and B.C. could support illicit cannabis vape sales in those regions.

Some in Canada’s licensed cannabis industry expect the vape-related illnesses from black market products to benefit legal sales, as vaporizer products must first be licensed by Health Canada.

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