Although the word “tincture” might conjure up an image of ancient apothecaries, or might be altogether unfamiliar to the average reader, tinctures are rapidly incorporating themselves into the cannabis community’s vocabulary as the product itself becomes better known and more popular.
So what are they, exactly?
Tinctures are defined as a medicinal extract in a solution of alcohol - for our purposes, alcohol infused with cannabis extract, sold in a medicine dropper and applied sublingually (under the tongue). Various cannabis companies have taken a broader interpretation –selling oil-based, rather than alcohol-based, tinctures, for example – which has caused some confusion among consumers, but ultimately all formats of tincture are aimed at administering the precise dosage of cannabis extract to the consumer through a quick and effective means.
Because tinctures are such a straightforward, simple and reliable method of administering a dose of cannabis, they are posed to become an important player in the cannabis market – but not only in the medical realm, where these qualities are most evidently valuable and useful. Tinctures are set to explode in recreational markets as well.
Tinctures have been largely targeted at and used by the medical community thus far, and remain relatively obscure; Per Brightfield research, only 43% of tinctures sales in the U.S. are taking place in recreational markets, versus 57% in medical markets. Furthermore, Brightfield estimates that tinctures and oils still make up less than 1% of total sales in the general cannabis market – but by various measures, tinctures have a greater presence and popularity in the medical realm.One illustrative example is that of hemp: nearly half of hemp CBD consumers buy their cannabis in the form of tinctures – and hemp CBD is designed strictly for medical purposes, with a negligible amount of THC by nature and no discernible “high” resulting from its use.
But by 2021, these figures are expected to change dramatically – with recreational states projected to make up 70% of the tinctures market, and medical states only 30%. Accompanying this shift, the tinctures market as a whole should grow from roughly $17 million to nearly $60 million during the same period (2017-2021).
What is behind these massive changes? Two phenomena are leading to growth in the tinctures market as well as its transition from medical to recreational use:
- First, tinctures are extremely popular in California, which currently makes up 30% of the U.S. tinctures market despite that – as of this writing – the state has not yet begun allowing formal recreational sales. As California transitions from allowing strictly (bottlenecked, limited) medical sales to allowing recreational sales to the general public, a great deal of tincture sales will shift from one category to the other. But this is not a zero-sum game; tinctures in the rec market will not only gain a portion of current medical customers, but will likely also gain many new clients who are simply waiting for the opportunity to purchase legally and easily without having to declare a medical condition.
- Secondly, tinctures have already been established as a mainstay of medically-oriented brands like Charlotte’s Web and Green Roads World, who have recognized that tinctures make up a pivotal part of a successful medical cannabis portfolio. Green Roads, for example, boasts “highly concentrated formula[s]” that are “helpful for treating seizures, Alzheimer, depression and pain” and - per their website - are compounded by a licensed pharmacist.
But more brands are coming online and beginning to sell products tailored to the general market, targeting cannabis users with serious ailments as well as those with everyday issues – a much wider audience. For example, recent "brand to watch" Yummi Karma appeals to a wide range of medical and recreational consumers by offering a variety of tinctures. Choices range from their “Twenty to One”, which has a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC and is designed to diminish anxiety, inflammation and PTSD, to their “Love Potion #420” tincture that is meant to be a natural aphrodisiac, and “Mood Magic” which is designed to alleviate women’s pre-menstrual symptoms.
As more cannabis manufacturers and vendors become privy to the popularity and potential of tinctures, and their appeal to a general market, they can be expected to incorporate greater quantities and varieties of these products into their portfolios. Combined with the on-boarding of several new rec states – particularly California – and cannabis products’ resulting exposure to many additional customers, this will likely equate to a great deal of growth in tincture sales – opening these products up to become a mainstay of the general cannabis market.
Read more about tinctures & CBD in our latest CBD Report & Survey of HelloMD users now available for FREE DOWNLOAD.
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