The product mix in Australia will keep evolving with vape carts and pastilles set to rise while CBD and THC oils have reached saturation point, data from honahlee has revealed.

The number of vape carts on the market doubled in the second half of 2022 and doubled again in the first half of 2023, delegates at the ACannabis conference were told.

But flower remains the dominant dose form, honahlee co-founder Tom Brown said.

Tom Brown (Photo: MCIA)

“Flower is the category that has skyrocketed and has grown five-fold since 2020,” he said. “Oils had their largest growth in H2 2022 but have flattened.

“In terms of vape carts and other more accessible dose forms, they are on the rise with vape carts doubling in the second half of 2022 and doubling again in the first half of 2023.

“Pastilles, or gummies, are the new big thing and this isn’t really surprising as patients have been asking for them for quite some time now.”

Until this year there were only two finished pastilles on the market, Brown said.

But since the turn of the year, four new products have been added to honahlee’s Catalyst platform.

“We believe that’s going to continue to increase,” he said.

Brown said the market has also seen an increase in concentrates, dabs and topicals, while patches and inhalers have also appeared.

“Patients are looking for more accessible product formats and those are the formats that you think of in a traditional pharmaceutical market,” he said. “Patients are requesting them specifically to replace things like oils which can be messy and difficult to handle when they’re on the move.”

Despite the rise of new product formats, Brown told the conference that flower was unlikely to be impacted due to its traditional use in medicinal cannabis – and cannabis in general – and because of the rapid effect.

“There is also a med-rec market that is very dominant,” he said.

Turning to the country of origin of medicinal cannabis products, Brown said there was concern prior to the TGO93 reforms in July last year that they would increase the price of products for suppliers and, therefore, patients.

“What we can see is that we have not realised any of these changes,” he said.

“First is the sheer growth of the flower category… and we don’t see this slowing down. More companies are importing flower to be packaged locally. This is currently at about 60% of all flower products and, as a result, we hope to see Australian manufacturers increase capacity and efficiency which will reduce the price to suppliers. That will have a knock-on effect for patients.”

Turning to oils, Brown said the total peaked by January 2023, with the number of CBD and THC oils now at saturation point.

“Only a very few differentiate from each other in any way and suppliers and healthcare professionals talk about oils as generics,” he said. “We hear it all the time. We believe we’ve reached a saturation point for these types of just plain-old CBD and THC oils.

“With relation to the July 2023 changes, it would have been reasonable to expect the number of products, particularly from countries like the US, to have decreased.

“However, at January 1 2024, we had 19 oil products on the market from the US and many of those batches are probably not compliant with the current TGO regulations, which is not surprising because [they] were released prior to the changes.”

He said some suppliers have confirmed that a number of these products will remain in the market because their manufacturing locations are compliant.

“There was a recent announcement that a company in Colorado just received their TGA licence, which means we’ll likely continue to see more oils coming from the US.”

On vape carts, Brown said manufacturing and packaging is being carried out in the same country as their Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API).

“When these products first hit the market, they were all from Canada. In the first half of 2023, we saw the first liquid vape carts come from South Africa and then in the second half of 2023, we saw our first vape carts from the US and Australia.

“This is another category that we see continuing to grow very rapidly and becoming slightly more diverse.”

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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