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Marijuana has not always been a legal option for consumers, but slowly the stigma is being washed off and dispensaries are scattering about the United States and Canada. As of now, 30 states have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and 9 have legalized recreational use. Canada has legalized cannabis use throughout the country. However, the market varies greatly across the map, making marijuana pricing inconsistent.
For people just stepping into cannabis’ intricate consumer market, determining fair prices can be difficult. Before stepping into the dispensary, though, it is nice to know what you should be prepared to pay for different strains and different quantities.
If you’re just entering the world of cannabis or relocating to another 420-friendly location, you may be curious what weed costs in your area. In short, it depends. There is no nationwide scale for pricing cannabis products. The price of pot in your area will depend on a number of factors.
The price changes quite a bit when you travel across the country, and the price is at least partially determined by things like:
In order to fully understand if you are getting a fair price on weed, you’ll need to understand exactly how these factors come into play.
In the United States, any penny made is subject to federal income taxes. This rule still applies to companies in the marijuana industry, and for many companies, it poses tax rates between 30%-70%.
A 70% income tax rate may seem too high, but thanks to some really old legislature (passed in the 80’s) it is the reality for many cannabis brands. Section 280E of the federal tax code prohibits any company who is “trafficking in controlled substances” from several tax breaks, like employee-related expenses or rent. This high-income tax rate is determined based on the qualifications of each company, as well as their individual deductions and income rates. Initially, this law was set in place to prevent drug traffickers from getting unfair tax breaks, but now it only hurts the cannabis industry. These prices are paid by the company, but they trickle down the line and inflate the final cost of weed in order to cover the loss.
State and city taxes on cannabis sales also impact the price of pot in your area. These tax rates differ greatly depending on location and are paid by the consumer, which directly impacts the final price you pay.
Washington has one of the highest tax rates in the U.S., charging an additional 37% on the sale of cannabis product. This also includes excise taxes, which can vary by city or county.
Alaska doesn’t charge any sales tax, but like many other states, they impose a cultivation tax. In Alaska, this rate looks something like $50 per ounce purchased. Cultivation taxes generally are set rates paid per ounce or pound by the wholesaler or company, but they do affect the final cost of weed for the consumer.
In addition to all marijuana-specific taxes, state sales taxes still apply, which adds additional cost to the final purchase. All in all, multiple taxing factors weigh in what the consumer actually pays.
The taxing regulations in Canada are similar, but not exactly alike. In Canada, the market is mostly government controlled and taxes will look something like $1 per gram or 10% of the total price.
Aside from taxes, there are several other “hidden” factors that affect the final price of weed.
First, marijuana is not easily grown in all climates. It typically grows best in climates that are relatively humid and warm, but not too hot, and growing cannabis indoors is costly (more on this in the next section). A large amount of cannabis in the United States is grown in Colorado and Arizona. In Canada, British Columbia and Ontario are big producers.
There are also several legal hoops that need to be jumped through in order to cultivate cannabis for wholesale. This means that the cultivation of marijuana is still limited to some extent and products often have to be delivered over lengthy distances.
Producers and distributors have to factor in the price of labor which is needed to load and unload products and drive them to their final destination. The shipping and labor prices are not directly paid by the consumer, but all of these factors are considered when the dispensary prices their product.
The quality of weed is one of the biggest factors affecting costs on a consumer level. In this sense, “quality” refers to several factors, like the density, amount of visible trichomes, color, and the smell of the weed. The most important factor that determines quality for most consumers is the potency, meaning it’s THC or CBD content.
Quality is determined by the growing process and the strain. Like different types of apples, each strain has its own unique characteristics. These characteristics, including cannabinoid and terpene levels, result in different effects that may be appealing to a particular consumer. Strains that are in high demand due to their quality often cost more than less popular strains.
For marijuana that is grown outdoors, quality is impacted by the environment. However, by growing it indoors, cultivators are able to control the quality of the marijuana with much more detail. Generally, indoor growing results in higher quality marijuana.
Unfortunately, growing indoors is much more costly than growing outdoors. This is because indoor growing requires extra equipment, like artificial lighting and supplemental nutrients, as well as costly facilities. Indoor growing often requires more human labor, since large machinery cannot easily be utilized to harvest the product and the facility needs to be upkept. This price increase is passed down the line to the consumer.
Just like produce in the market, marijuana costs are heavily impacted by the season. During harvesting seasons (which vary by the plant) supply increases. With a supply increase comes lower prices for the wholesaler, which are eventually passed down to the consumer.
In the Northern hemisphere, marijuana that is grown outdoors is typically harvested between September and November, which means the price of weed will often drop during those months.
Indoor growing harvest times vary greatly based on when the seeds are planted and particular characteristics of each strain, like the length of each growing phase.
Competition within your area affects the cost of weed as well. This is the same rule that applies to competition between every type of business and their leading competitors. Take apples in a grocery store for example.
Grocery store A may advertise a twenty cent price drop on a particular type of apples in order to pull customers away from the competitor (grocery store B) and into their store. In response, grocery store B may lower the price of the same type of apple in order to convince customers to continue to choose their store. Then, grocery store B may also lower the price of a different type of apple as well, which may help them pull customers from grocery store A.
Of course, each grocery store usually has to raise prices in other areas to compensate for the discounts. In dispensaries, this may apply to particular strains or products, but where one product’s price drops, another will generally increase.
This means that you may be able to get better deals if you are more flexible with the strain you choose. Looking for sales and discounts on particular strains may help you cut costs.
Alternatively, businesses may run promotions in order to acquire new customers. A promotion is something like a discount for subscribing to an email newsletter or for first-time purchases. The types of discounts generally apply to online stores, but may also be used in brick and mortar businesses as well. Either way, the price you pay for pot is directly impacted by the competition.
After all the factors have been considered, weed is priced by weight. The unit of measurement for marijuana is a unique combination of the S.I. system and British and U.S. customary units.
The smallest unit used to measure pot is the gram. From there, measurements are based on the ounce and include quantities like an eighth (of an ounce), quarter ounce, a half ounce, an ounce. Even larger quantities are sold by the pound.
Like most products, the cost of marijuana decreases when it is bought in larger quantities. The price per gram for only one gram of pot will be higher than the price per gram when purchasing an entire ounce.
When determining the costs of each quantity of weed in your state, you must take all determining factors into effect. Our calculations are based on averages and could vary slightly from actual weed prices in your area at the time.
One gram of weed is the smallest amount you can typically purchase at a dispensary. Grams are useful for trying new strains to test their effects but are one of the most expensive ways to purchase marijuana. Visually, a gram is between the size of a quarter and a half dollar.
Another way to consider the size of each quantity is by how much use you can get from it, or how many joints you can roll. Reports that determine the average size of one joint vary greatly. One study concluded that the average weight of pot rolled into a single joint was only around 0.32 grams, while many avid cannabis users report using up to 1 gram at a time.
The amount of pot actually used in a single joint varies by the smoker’s preference, but for the sake of an average estimate, we calculate that a medium-sized joint holds around 0.5 grams. At half a gram per joint, you can roll two joints out of a single gram of marijuana.
The price of a gram of weed at dispensaries usually ranges from $10-$15, but that price varies greatly by state. That price is lower in Oregon City and Seattle, where a gram costs about $6.75, and in Colorado, where a gram cost around $7.15. In Washington D.C., a gram of pot can cost you over $18.
In Canada, the average price of a gram is only around $9.
An eighth is the next largest measurement to a gram and refers to an eighth of an ounce. An eighth of an ounce equals approximately 3.543 grams, but in the cannabis world, it is simplified to 3.5 grams. At the going average of 0.5 grams per joint, an eighth will roll 7 joints.
The price of an eighth usually varies between $30 and $35. However, In Alaska, an eighth will cost close to $40, and in Washington D.C. may cost as much as $65. In Oregon and Seattle, an eighth is much cheaper and usually costs around $23.
Canada’s eighth usually goes for a lower rate, around $28.
A quarter of weed, or a quarter of an ounce, equals 7 grams. At a half gram per joint, this will roll 14 joints.
The average going price for a quarter of pot is between $65-$75. However, the price does vary greatly by location, and there are several states with below-average prices for quarters. In Oregon, Washington, and Colorado the prices for a quarter are around $46, $48, and $50 respectively. Quarters can cost as much as $82 in North Dakota and closer to $120 in Washington D.C.
Canada’s average price lies around $54.
A half ounce is 14 grams and rolls 28 joints.
Typically, the price for a half ounce of marijuana falls somewhere between $115-$150. The most inexpensive states offer lower prices, like Oregon at $93, Washington at $95, and Colorado at $100. In Washington D.C. a quarter can cost over $250.
In places like Toronto and Quebec, you can expect a half ounce to cost around $105.
An ounce is equal to 28 grams of marijuana and is one of the most popular quantities purchased among consumers. Usually, purchasing an ounce at a time is the best way for consumers to cut costs and is the maximum amount that can be legally obtained and possessed at one time. An ounce will roll 56 half gram joints.
The price of an ounce will usually fall somewhere between $230-$380 dollars but can cost much more in places like Alaska, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, where the price is much closer to $300. In Washington D.C., an ounce costs as much as $500. Some states have much cheaper options, like Oregon with ounces at $186, Washington at $190, and Colorado at $200.
The average price for an ounce in Canada is only around $190.
While legal marijuana use is equally heavy on both sides of the border, the markets are incredibly different, especially considering Canada’s national legalization of the plant for both recreational and medicinal use. One report shows that Canada’s weed prices are around 30% lower than in the United States.
There are both simple and complex reasons for this. The easiest explanation is because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level in the U.S. This poses some serious issues in areas where marijuana is legalized on a state level. One primary concern is that many producers and dispensaries do not have adequate bank access. In Canada, national banks have federal security when dealing with the cannabis market.
Canada also has a small population compared to the U.S. Therefore, there is a smaller market for marijuana that is incredibly competitive. Prices for marijuana are low in order to interest medical consumers. Because health care in Canada is often free or set at a very low price, many medicinal consumers refuse to pay high prices for the medicinal herb.
Because Canada’s government is on board, the market is more structured. Canada exports far more marijuana than they import, so there are very few added fees associated with the price of importing product. Government-controlled shops will offer a more flat-rate price, which is set to be somewhere around $8-10 per gram. The Canadian government hopes to rival black market prices and reduce the amount of marijuana bought on the street, therefore they regulate the prices on legal marijuana that is sold in order to keep prices low.
Marijuana prices on the black market vary wildly by location, and it is impossible to accurately represent them. In some areas in the southern United States, a quarter ounce can be bought for around 65 dollars. In northern areas, black market prices are lower. Black market prices include no taxes or regulations, which can significantly decrease the price compared to pot purchased in dispensaries.
However, there is a reason that “street weed” costs so little. Most marijuana bought on the black market is home-grown by someone with a “green thumb” or imported from other countries, such as Mexico. Because the product is not produced commercially, tested for potency, or produced under important safety regulation, the quality varies significantly. Black market products are notoriously unreliable, and generally, have much lower amounts of THC and other cannabinoids than legal marijuana.
There are safety concerns for black market marijuana as well. Street pot always runs the risk of containing dangerous pesticides, additives, and harsh chemicals. Some reports over time have shown a trend in lacing marijuana in order to make it seem more potent, which is only a scheme that illicit dealers use in order to charge more for a poor quality product. The chemicals used to lace street weed vary from synthetic THC products to embalming fluid, laundry detergent, cocaine, and even PCP.
Buying weed in a dispensary is the only way to ensure that you know what you’re getting. Dispensaries have to follow guidelines for labeling and testing products, so you can easily look at the packaging to determine the THC content and other defining factors.
Because of all of the impending price factors, there is no one and done figure to help you determine pot prices in your locations. However, there are a few things you can do to help determine the going rate near you in order to decide if the prices you pay are fair. Try out the following tips to find information on weed prices in your area:
No matter the approach you take, identifying marijuana price marks in your area is a great first step to taking educated steps into the cannabis market. There are many different reasons that your local weed prices could vary greatly from what’s listed, but this guideline, along with your own research should help you decide if the price you’re paying is fair.