Marijuana legalization is a sensitive issue for people on both sides of the argument. Some states have recognized that marijuana has a legitimate use as a medicine to treat a wide variety of symptoms and ailments. Another handful of states have gone further and legalized the use of recreational marijuana. For something that was formerly available only on the black market, legalization has certainly affected the prices of marijuana available both at legal dispensaries and through less-than-legal means. So get your vaporizers loaded with your finely ground buds (vaping can save you money by getting the same effect from less product) and see where you can find the cheapest and most expensive cannabis on the market.
A State-by-State Comparison
As you would expect, the states who have legalized recreational cannabis usually have the lowest prices. But the state with the very lowest prices might surprise you. This week, the average price of an ounce of high-quality marijuana was $320.66. If you're more in the market for mids (or "mid-grade cannabis"), you're looking at $281.57 per ounce.
For the lowest price of high-grade marijuana, you'll need to pick up your stash in Oregon, with prices of $210.64 per ounce. The District of Columbia, which has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, has the highest price per ounce of high-grade cannabis, at $599.08. Both have legalized recreational and medical marijuana, but D.C. is nearly three times more expensive. This may be related to the fact that our nation's capital, while a legal area, is funded by federal monies, and marijuana remains federally illegal.
However, just because cannabis is legalized does not mean that it's less expensive to get your smoke at a dispensary. In legalized states, the industry is highly regulated with required testing for potency, along with restrictions on what is used in the cultivation process. All of this can get expensive. Dispensary owners take on the expense for this testing and typically pass it on in their prices. This can actually make it cheaper in some states to obtain your marijuana on the black market than from a dispensary.
While Oregon has the cheapest overall prices, dispensary prices are still roughly 73% higher than street prices. However, Mesa, Arizona, is a little different, with an average dispensary being about 8% less expensive than street prices. Keep in mind, however, that in states where marijuana is legalized for medicine or recreational use, dispensaries are required to label their product so the customer knows exactly what they are getting. In some states, such as Colorado, they must also list everything used in the cultivation process.
Procuring it on the streets can mean you're getting anything from lower-quality cannabis to something potentially laced with other drugs. Dispensaries are also required to list the percentage of THC and CBD, which can be a crapshoot when purchasing from friends or the dude on the corner.
Prices in the U.S. vs the World
When it comes to comparing prices against the rest of the world, the United States falls somewhere in the middle, with an average of about $11.50/gram. When it comes to cost, marijuana in the most expensive countries is twenty times costlier than in the least expensive countries.
Norway, with its strict marijuana laws, where possession of more than 15 grams is considered evidence of dealing, has the most expensive per-gram price at $21.90 per gram. Ireland is one of the least expensive of the most expensive countries, with prices at about $13.45 per gram. Decriminalization might be coming for the Emerald Isle, but it's not there yet. Finland is somewhere in the middle, with prices of $19.32 per gram, the higher prices due to lack of supply and strict marijuana laws.
Uruguay has the cheapest prices at $1/gram, but this is mostly because the prices are set by the government. In Uruguay, pot is legal nationwide and widely used. Going to South Africa, where cannabis is decriminalized, pushes the price up to $4.45 per gram. But don't count on either recreational or medicinal legalization in South Africa anytime soon. In India, where marijuana is one of the five "sacred plants," you will pay $3.03/gram. Here, pot grows on vast expanses of land, where some people cultivate it and others let it grow wild.
Cannabis prices vary wildly from state to state and country to country. The stricter the laws and the harsher the sentences for breaking these laws, the higher the prices go. Like everything, supply and demand can become a factor as well. In the United States, your best bet is a marijuana dispensary, provided you live in a state where either medical or recreational marijuana is available. This way, you're more than likely to know exactly what you're getting, and that in itself can be priceless.