It could be argued buying anything in bulk makes it cheaper over the long term. Yet the way our brains prioritize choices, especially those tied up in money, easily allows us to discount certain future ideas. Small transactions, such as a purchase of a joint, reflect different behaviors: one requires you to pre-commit to possessing a larger amount of marijuana, suggesting you anticipate using it over a larger period of time, and the other reflects the momentary, possibly social, commitment to an individual experience with no clear anticipation of future use.
Buying marijuana, much like any other consumable product, engages the brain and the brain responds by triggering the closest, logical parallel situation it can manage (even if it is an abstract concept with no words to describe it). With regard to buying marijuana in bulk, the closest example of this brain game comes from the idea of a reference point.
Picture you are at lunch with a friend. Under $10 is cheap, $11-$15 is reasonable, $16 or more is fairly expensive. If these dollar amounts capture your emotion towards lunch prices, the brain may apply this recurring pattern of gauging consumption prices to new, unfamiliar purchasing. For a large majority of us, common purchases are in small amounts. It makes smaller purchases easier to make as our brains, thoughts, and emotions are all wound in a familiar way. And, in general, it is a good thing. This gives us a moment of unfamiliarity with larger purchasing decisions, allowing us to further engage in making the decision.
Bulk choices for cost priorities
Though buying marijuana in bulk will typically save you money in the long term, the cost savings also comes down to how frequently you plan on using marijuana. Year after year, people get a raise at their job or get a promotion and, in terms of monthly income they see bigger dollar amounts. This gives the people who feel they are only getting by, the people who are well off, and people who have never had a concern ever (and they own a helicopter) the same brain response. We know when a dollar amount positively increases, it is associated with the choices (including luck) which lead to the increase. In itself, we can look at this as a reward system.
However, this reward system can be undermined through time, affecting the value of the money you are willing to spend on a particular transaction. For those of us somewhere in the middle when it comes to economic status, this reward system can make it easier to have that dinner you keep putting off or take the vacation you’ve been wanting, ultimately leaving you in the same financial situation. Oddly, the same sort of undermining occurs when we make small purchases. Incurring a smaller cost more frequently is easily absorbed into typical pay cycles for jobs, making it a reasonable at the time but adding up beyond what bulk purchases would cost. And we know this, but often the paradox of having more variety of edible products, strains, and extract choices does not make it any easier.
It’s an exploration also. Smaller purchases allow people to try new things more frequently but ultimately will end up costing more. Bulk purchases may require some savings. If you are buying marijuana recreationally or medically, purchase limits varying in each state may additionally limit how much you can purchase at once. Colorado limits recreational sales to one ounce of flower and has adopted general two-ounce limit for medical cardholders.
Big savings on both small and large purchases
In states where the total number of dispensaries is not limited by state law, direct competition faced by marijuana businesses has lead to a wave of innovations and new, exclusive products. Yet, one of the biggest effects the green rush has had is pushing down consumer prices through supply increases and dispensary deals. It is not uncommon in Colorado to find a special for a recreational 1/8th for $20 or an ounce for $100. You can get shatter and wax sometimes for as low as $15 per gram, whereas three years ago shatter cost over $50 on average.
These are not unmanageable costs. So then, why do people choose one over the other?
The answer: Personal reasons.
Buying marijuana engages the same parts of the brain which kick in for any money-related transaction. In the same way you can get behind the wheel of a car and safely drive while thinking about the day, being part of a routine you have chosen to do time and time again, you can make driving seem almost thoughtless. Purchasing behaviors form those same patterns in your mind, giving energy and strength to those brain connections. We develop our preferences, we follow our reference points, and we continue to try different things. Personal preference is built into our self-concept and identity. We form behaviors around those preferences and we purchase from brands or in certain ways which fit the context of our life at the moment.
Buying marijuana in bulk remains one of the best values, but only narrowly. An example of spectacular bulk or small purchase deals is Native Roots in Colorado. Native Roots provides medical cardholders with buy one get one prerolls on Monday (at certain locations). With this special, an ounce in prerolls is less than $100, whereas buying an ounce of flower typically costs $125 or more. And the deal doesn’t have to be used in bulk; you can get a few joints for less than the cost of bulk.
Buying marijuana in a culture with such rapid momentum behind it has many consumers struggling to keep up. In many of the states and cities where marijuana is fully legal for adults, it comes down to finding the best deals. Bulk is nearly always a lesser cost, but special deals are changing the industry.