Cannabis markets are incredibly patchwork and complicated, which isn’t likely to change anytime soon. A gram of flower in one city might cost substantially more than the same amount in another. Seedo, a hydroponics manufacturer based in Germany, recently released their index of cannabis prices around the world and the U.S., and the results are intriguing.
First off, in the U.S., Washington D.C. serves as an example of why legalization doesn’t necessarily result in lower prices. A gram of cannabis costs a little more than $18 in the nation’s capital, or a little more than $500 per ounce. DC has always been a special case when it comes to cities and this is no exception, due to Congress’ veto power over city affairs. There is no regulatory process allowing legal growing or sales in the district.
Instead, the market functions on a donation basis (buy this nondescript t-shirt for an unusually high price, and receive this complimentary bud as a gift!) and the odd setup has resulted in sky-high prices for locals.
In comparisons, cities with settled legal recreational-use markets show some of the lowest prices around. According to Seedo’s numbers, a gram costs a quarter over $9 in San Francisco, $8.14 in Los Angeles, and the prices are even lower in Colorado and Washington. A gram in Denver is around $7.79, and Seattle has the least expensive cannabis around, at $7.58 per gram.
The study also looked at the amount of cannabis consumed in each city, and New York City took the top spot, consuming 77 metric tons of cannabis per year despite its high cost of $10.76 per gram on the medical market. Los Angeles came in fourth on the same list, consuming roughly half that amount despite the lower cost of cannabis in the city.
Still, the overall trend of legalization dropping prices is clear when you factor in the international markets. Canadian cities averaged a lower cost per gram than Seattle. In Uruguay, where recreational cannabis use and sales are completely legal, a gram costs a little more than $4, among the lowest prices in the world.
Although a bud in D.C. is pricey, it still doesn’t rank among the world’s highest prices per gram. That list is dominated by Pacific countries: Japan, China and South Korea where cannabis is strictly illegal. The top spot is a close contest, but Tokyo has the highest cannabis prices in the world, where a gram costs $32.66 each.
For American growers, the lesson is clear. While market variations and regulatory bottlenecks can have drastic effects on the price from city to city, the overall trend is that legalization brings lower prices. So when you’re planning the future of your own operation, look at your overhead with fresh eyes, because if prices are only going to drop in the long haul, efficiency is the word of the day.