Thursday February 18, 2021
By Erin Hiatt
If you’re a cannabis consumer who has had the opportunity to make purchases in different legal states (or if you happen to have knowledge of the illicit market, for some reason) you have probably noticed that the cost of cannabis can vary, sometimes by quite a bit. There are many factors at play here; region, taxes, quality, supply and demand, indoor vs. outdoor grows, and local competition to mention a few. While the cost of a pound of weed is something very few consumers will need to worry about in a literal way, its cost trickles down to the end products for consumers. So let’s take a look at how much a pound of weed is worth.
COVID’s Effect on Cannabis Prices
But first, a word about 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a few key factors that exerted a kind of push-and-pull effect on the cost of a pound of cannabis in 2020, and not all of them are yet understood. The pandemic brought about a number of variables as cannabis businesses were deemed essential by many states and allowed to remain open with some restrictions. In response to pandemic restrictions, some states waived regulations regarding cannabis delivery or implemented curbside pickup to prevent consumers from having to spend time shopping indoors. Statisticians are still trying to make sense of exactly how those major changes affected sales.
Were more orders placed with expanded access to deliveries? Were they enough to recoup sales missed from in-person retail? It’s still hard to say how large a role each played in last year’s pot prices. As cannabis markets like Oregon, Colorado, and Washington have settled in and matured, it was anticipated that wholesale cannabis prices would continue their year-over-year decline. However, in 2020 weed prices were up slightly from previous years, despite COVID restrictions.
For example, California - the largest producer of cannabis in the U.S. at more than 13 million pounds per year - saw a price drop of 12 percent in 2019. The price of a pound of wholesale California weed did drop in 2020 but only slightly, from $1,550 to $1,510. In Colorado, the cost of a pound of outdoor wholesale cannabis costs $1,327, and in Oregon, $1,470.
Another factor that contributes to the cost of a pound of weed is demand, and 2020 saw demand for cannabis skyrocket in both legal and illicit markets. Sales in legal adult-use states saw an increase of 50 percent across all markets. On the flip side, the wildfire season in California’s Emerald Triangle and parts of Oregon burned many farms to the ground and rained ash on plants that did survive, so in the coming year we may see a drop in supply. If high demand remains ongoing, that could push the cost of a pound of weed higher rather than lower, as is the historic norm.
The Average Price of a Pound of Cannabis in 2020
For now, the most recent numbers from Cannabis Benchmark reports these averages for legal markets:
Average Marijuana Prices in Legal Markets:
- Average wholesale price per pound for adult-use cannabis: $1,600
- Average wholesale price per pound for medicinal: $1,800
- Average for greenhouse-grown cannabis: $1,350
- Average for indoor-grown cannabis: $1,900
- Average for outdoor-grown cannabis: $750
- Median average: $1,650
Marijuana Prices By State
While illicit market averages tend to follow legal markets fairly closely, this terrific resource from 420DC.com gets into more details of the cost of a pound of weed in a few medicinal, adult-use, and illicit markets across the country. Here’s what’s happening in a few key places:
Legal medicinal: $2,000
Legal adult-use: $1,7000-2,000
Illicit medicinal: $1,700-2,000
Illicit adult-use: $1,637-1,785
Legal medicinal: $1,545-2,202
Legal adult-use: $1,332-1,875
Illicit medicinal: $1,604-$1,962
Illicit adult-use: $1,515-$1,962
Legal medicinal: $1,584-3,000
Legal adult-use: $1,990-2,302
Illicit medicinal: $1,200-2,160
Illicit adult-use: $1,385-2,500
The Wrap Up
As for how much a pound of weed is actually worth, it is both a literal and an existential question. It is literal for medicinal patients who require a steady supply of affordable and accessible cannabis, as well as business owners whose livelihood derives from consistent supply and a reasonable expectation that the markets will stabilize regardless of challenges (as they’ve demonstrated during the COVID era). Existentially, is there any amount of weed that can get us through what remains of this pandemic? We shall see.
How much does cannabis cost in your area? Share your experiences in the comments below!