Experts recommend making affordable cannabis a priority in Canada

Published Feb 1, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / OlegMalyshev

Whether you buy weed online or directly from a cannabis store, there is no denying that weed prices just about everywhere are unaffordable, especially for patients on limited incomes who require it for treatment, but that hasn’t stopped the cannabis industry from posting sky-high prices, while offering little to no selection to choose from. This unfortunate situation seems to be the result of a greedy government who thought that the cannabis industry would be easy money, but the statistics still lean in favor of black-market dispensaries.

Weed prices vary greatly

It didn’t take long for cannabis lovers all across Canada to start complaining about legal weed prices, with the average gram from a legal cannabis store costing between $8 and $10 per gram and a small discount for buying in bulk. A perk that most had become accustomed to after years of buying pot off the street, but that is not the only issue that consumers have, as it would be expected that a regulated industry following safety procedures might cost a bit more to run.

The biggest problem was and still is that legal weed prices remain almost double that of the black market, and in exchange for such exuberant costs, customers are receiving mediocre product at best. To understand this, you need to delve into the more technical side of the marijuana plant components. The two primary active cannabinoids are CBD and THC, and though pure CBD strains seem easier to find at a legal cannabis store, the average recreational buds max out at around 17% potency.

Those who aren’t familiar with THC content might not see a problem with this, but when you compare cannabis strains with 17% strength against street products that can often reach to eye-popping levels between 22% and 30%, these folks are getting ripped off in every way imaginable, and they are using their money to tell cannabis producers that they aren’t happy by continuing to support black market weed prices and dispensaries.

The discrepancy continues to grow

This is not a new problem, but it is one that no one is rushing to solve, and that fact is apparent when looking at how much more that gap between legal and illegal weed prices has continued to grow. According to the latest cannabis research from Statistics Canada, illegal weed prices have gone up an average of $1 since legalization which is well over a year ago, and during that time, black market cannabis store prices dropped by the same amount, adding an even bigger gap that is leaving consumers unhappy.

Are high prices what ultimately failed the cannabis industry?

Right now, the most problematic struggle for the industry and cannabis store owners is how to compete with an entirely unregulated market that is flourishing completely unhindered by pesky rules or high taxes, and it’s something that experts are saying need to end. Though no one is entirely convinced that the problem with the legal market comes down to weed prices alone, it would certainly be a good start.

This had led to official statements from professionals such as Michael Armstrong, who works at the Godman School of Business at Brock University as a professor. Though he is humbled after being asked for his opinion, it’s one that rings true and familiar with consumers, manufacturers, and producers of cannabis products in Canada.

Cannabis dispensary prices are higher in the US than in Canada

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