Brandon Pollock, chief executive of the marijuana company Theory Wellness, said consumer spending on vape cartridges at his company’s recreational shop in Great Barrington has dropped about 20 percent since news emerged of the health crisis. Overall revenue has remained steady, though, suggesting consumers are simply switching to other methods of consuming cannabis.
Like many other licensed marijuana companies in Massachusetts, Theory Wellness has launched a marketing campaign aimed at convincing customers its vaporizers are safe and contain only pure marijuana concentrate and cannabis-derived terpenes, aromatic compounds that occur naturally in the plant.
Pollock is predicting that vaporizer sales will rebound and continue growing. That’s because the devices are more convenient and less odorous than marijuana flower, he said, and because the health scare will prompt consumers to switch from illicit products to those sold in regulated stores.
“I’m not surprised there’s an initial contraction,” he said. “I actually expect an increase in sales as people really exit the black market. I think people right now are just digesting the news — in the long run, this is good for the regulated cannabis industry.”
While the vaping-related illnesses have only recently made national headlines, many local doctors say the issue has probably been going on for much longer.
Vaping-related symptoms — such as fevers, chest pain, and breathing troubles— could easily have been mistaken by physicians for pneumonia or another common infection.
Also, most doctors only recently began asking patients whether they use vaping devices.
A significant number of experienced marijuana consumers and patients said they had stopped using vaporizers before the news of the health crisis, concerned about the presence of additives or the possibility that the heating coils in cheap, Chinese-made cartridges could be leaking heavy metals into the oil they contain.