The Top 5 Ways to Consume Cannabis in California

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You may have a preferred method of consuming cannabis but do you ever wonder how other adults consume cannabis in California? What kind of flower are people grinding and smoking? Are tiny tinctures twirling under people’s tounges? For those Californians in a hurry, what pre-rolls are in people’s pockets? Prefer edibles? What tasty treats are passing through Californians’ lips? If discretion and convenience are important to you, how do vape pens fit into the mix?

We had two ways to find out. One ⎼ we could try to contact every cannabis consumer in California but that seemed like a pretty daunting task and would take way too much time. Two ⎼ we could navigate to the Headset website, a company that specializes in cannabis market research. Their mission is to “help operators make more informed business decisions through data,” and their Insights data is incredible. We spent some time poking around their site and came away with these dispensary nuggets from February 23, 2019, based on unit sales in California. Your shopping experience and preferences may vary.



Smoking raw flower remains a time-honored, popular way to consume cannabis. Whether you’re grinding a bud for a joint, a vape, or simply placing a bud in a bong or bowl, smoking cannabis is a ritual practiced for thousands of years. Headset reported that smoking flower remains the most popular way to consume cannabis in California, making up 50 percent of licensed cannabis purchases.

The recent top five flower strains and brands in California are:

Girl Scout Cookies (LITLZ), Premium Jack (NUG), Deep Sour Kush (FIRE SALE), Silver Sundaze (ELYON CANNABIS), and Sunset OG OLD (PAL).



Edibles tend to create a more body-intensive effect, and for many patients, edibles provide the relief they are seeking in manageable, consistent doses. Plus, they taste great! For new users, it’s best to practice at home. Timing can be an issue as some people may begin to feel the effects in as little as 20 minutes while for others, it may take a couple of hours. Edibles come in second place with roughly 21 percent of licensed cannabis purchases.

The recent top five edible products are:

Uplift – Sour Watermelon Sativa Gummies 20-Pack (PLUS), Restore – Blackberry Lemon Indica Gummies 20-Pack (PLUS), Indica Plum Gummies (KUSHY PUNCH), Create – Hybrid Sour Blueberry Gummies (PLUS), and Sativa Strawberry Gummies (KUSHY PUNCH).



Vape pens are, in a word, discrete. While they come in different sizes, most offer the same mobile convenience as Prerolls but without the smoke. Vape pens use oils or wax concentrates with no fuss and no lingering smell. Like flower strains, consumers may purchase different vapes for different purposes. They also provide more consistent dosing than smoking. Be warned though, vaping oils and concentrates are more potent precisely because they are concentrated cannabis. Vape pens account for roughly 12 percent of licensed cannabis purchases in California. Concentrates accounted for approximately 5 percent of licensed retail sales.

The top five vape pens were:

Wedding Cake Cartridge (SELECT), Purple Punch Cartridge (SELECT), Maui Wowie Cartridge (SELECT), NYC Diesel Cartridge (SELECT), and Blue Dream Cartridge (ABX / ABSOLUTEXTRACTS).



I was never very good at rolling joints. My best friend, Terry, was annoyingly perfect at it, which for some reason bothers me to this day, 30 years later. When on the go, pre-rolls can be great when convenience is preferable. The cannabis is carefully selected (ahem, no stems or other nonsense) and ground to perfection. All you need is a match or lighter and you’re in business. A word of advice, pre-rolls are delicate, so take care not to smash them in your pocket. Pre-roll smokes account for a little over 10 percent of recent California retail cannabis purchases.

Here are the current top five pre-roll brands:

Greatful Dave Pre-Roll (GRIZZLY PEAK FARMS), Miss USA Pre-roll (LOWELL SMOKES), Dogwalkers Pre-Roll 4-Pack (CALIVA) Smokestack Lightning Pre-Roll (LOWELL SMOKES), and Sativa House Doobie (CALIVA).



Tantalizingly tiny, tinctures and sublingual droplets are gifts in a bottle. Using an eyedropper to place a few drops under your tongue is the normal way to consume a tincture. They can also be added to beverages, oils, and butter. While the bottles themselves tend to be small, tinctures also pack a punch and can be very potent. Their market share is tiny too, as they constitute approximately 1% of dispensary sales.

The top five  brands in the Tincture/Sublingual category are:

CBD:THC 18:1 Sublingual Drops (CARE BY DESIGN), CBD:THC 18:1 Sublingual Drops (CARE BY DESIGN), Sleepy Time Drops Tincture (ABX / ABSOLUTEXTRACTS), CBD:THC 30:1 CBD Rich Releaf Tincture (PAPA & BARKLEY), and CBD:THC 1:1 Sublingual Drops (CARE BY DESIGN).



Headset also reported that 59 percent of baby boomers, and 47 percent of adults age 76 or older preferred smoking. Edibles for boomers came in at 10 percent and older adults at 9 percent. Boomers using vape pens is at 10 percent and for 8 percent for seniors. Pre-rolls were approximately 5 percent for both age groups, yet around 5 percent of senior Americans used tinctures with far fewer boomers using them.

Our Three Wells product partners offer something for everyone, so let’s help them crack the Insight Top Five for March. In April, look for our next Ways To Consume Insight series for beverages, capsules, and topicals.

How do you consume cannabis? Do you have a favorite method? Is there any type of process, or honored ritual which you enjoy? Are you like my friend Terry and precision joints are how you roll?  We’d love to hear your story, so start a conversation on our social channels.

John Ansimoore explores all things cannabis for Three Wells.

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