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Where’s the cheapest cannabis? A state-by-state comparison

March 14, 2019
(Leafly)
As US states have legalized cannabis over the past decade, they’ve created a patchwork of small economies. These economies are governed by divergent state laws and separated by firewalls; not a single gram can legally cross state lines. Unsurprisingly, then, markets have evolved considerable differences even as they’ve developed side by side.

A new report by cannabis data firm Headset explores the differences in price that have arisen across these state markets. Looking at Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and California, the report traces price trends across various product categories.

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Where’s the cheapest cannabis?

bar graph of average price per cannabis product

Click to enlarge. (Headset)

Of the four states Headset looked at, Washington had the lowest average price per cannabis product. The aptly named Evergreen State also offered the cheapest average gram in terms of concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens. Colorado came in slightly lower on average price per gram of flower, but only by a hair.

According to the Headset data, a gram of cannabis flower runs an average of $4.90 in Washington. That wasn’t always the case. “The first day of legal cannabis sales in Washington state saw grams of cannabis being sold for as much as $30, which is unheard of now,” the report notes.

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What’s behind the precipitous drop in price? After all, Washington’s 37% cannabis excise tax is one of the highest in the nation.

“Washington has thousands of distinct cannabis brands, and a ‘tiered house’ market system that gives retailers a lot of power to push back on price,” the report says. “Colorado’s system allows for vertical integration, so even though it has seen prices come down over the years, the brand landscape is less hotly contested.”

And the most expensive?

bar graph of price per gram of cannabis in inhalable forms

Click to enlarge. (Headset)

If Washington offers the lowest average cannabis price of the four states Headset analyzed, Nevada boasts the highest—by far. The state had the highest average price per gram across flower, concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens.

Tourism might account for some of Nevada’s premium pricing. Vape pens, which are particularly popular among out-of-towners and casual consumers, were considerably more expensive in Nevada than in any other state. The average price per gram for vape carts in Nevada was $96—nearly triple Washington’s average of $36.

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California reigns supreme when it comes to average product price, although part of that has to do with what products retailers choose to carry. The average item price is $30.90, according to the Headset report, which is more than double Washington’s average of $15.33. Some of the difference is the result of increased compliance costs that came with California’s recent transition to a regulated market. “In California, which just came online in 2018,” the report says, average item price “has actually gone up by $5, but that can’t last forever.”

california cannabis prices in 2018

Click to enlarge. (Headset)

Non-inhalable products

Price trends in non-inhalable products—including infused beverages, edibles, capsules, tinctures, and topicals—were a bit less clear. Headset evaluated price per milligram of THC in these products and found that “price trends don’t mirror the state trends shown in inhalables.” Variance in prices from state to state was also more limited.

Nevada, for example, is still on the expensive side in terms of beverages, edibles, capsules, and topicals—but it had the lowest average price when it came to tinctures. And despite California’s high average item price, the Golden State has the lowest-priced edibles of any state Headset looked at.

price per milligram of THC in non-inhalable cannabis products

Click to enlarge. (Headset)

The full report is available through Headset.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Caio Mello

    why isnt oregon in the comparison chart

    • Thomas Leppin

      I second that why not OR . I believe there number one.

    • Thomas Leppin

      I second that. I believe OR is number one.

  • Your article is incomplete, in a way that makes it essentially useless.

    Oregon, which Actually has the lowest prices, is an outlier because of their glut in production. Which would make the answer “Where is it cheapest?” obvious and valid.

    When you exclude the data that most clearly answers your question, what you have left is meaningless, because the correct data was not even considered.

    The title would be more accurate if it was,”Who has the cheapest cannabis, among the four states we have chosen to study”.

    • Jeff (Jefe) Millan

      Thanks for bringing this up. Agreed, as I understood it, OR has 6-7 years of cannabis back-stock due to over production and thus prices of good A/B bud have plummeted.

  • Daniel Pdx

    Why isn’t Oregon listed? It had legal Rec. weed before Cali or Nevada.

    This article is a complete waste of time.

    In Portland numerous shops have $48 (that is with tax) ounces.

    Lazy research leads to useless articles.

  • Flap MacDoodle

    why isn’t Illinois
    in the comparison?

  • Eric Van

    Oregon needs to be on this list. It is by far the cheapest state

    • John Kress

      Though most expensive to live …

      • Yeowza

        Seattle is more expensive than Portland and Oregon in general for living expenses.

    • Thomas Leppin

      Yes I agree

  • Yeowza

    What about Idaho? Ohhh wait…oh yeah….they all shop in WA and OR.
    But yeah how could you exclude Oregon? I mean we are unique in many ways, including weed. And we will also be the Hemp leader on the west coast, etc etc…. Nevada? Is that a state? It’s Vegas and it’s side kick Reno…nothing more for this study…soooo.

    • Calicorock

      Perhaps the exclusion of Oregon is because of regional redundency. After all Washington was the first US State to officially legalize rec. weed (by the Governors ballot certification, not rec. sales that would be Colorado). I get it

      • Thomas Leppin

        I don’t get it OR has the best.

    • Thomas Leppin

      Good point , and CA top shelf =OR bottom shelf.

  • George D.

    I must have missed information about Alaska? I thought it had decriminalized cannabis a long time ago?

  • 420BostonDude

    this should say, 4 of 30+ states, heres 4 places prices.

    article is a waste of pixels

  • phil

    add Florida so everyone know how bad it is down here

  • Sitkajo

    Oregon is cheaper then Washington. Also why no Alaska or BC? Low hanging fruit there.