You probably wouldn’t ask someone the simple question, “what does a house cost?”
That’s because you know that home prices can vary by millions of dollars. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently paid $165 million for a Los Angeles house and followed that up by buying another one in Hawaii for $78 million. (To be fair, they were estates with lots of lands.)
On the other hand, the median home price in Detroit is just $32,600, meaning many are much cheaper than that.
Weed doesn’t cost that much, of course, but there are enormous price disparities, depending on where you’re buying your cannabis and the quality of the bud that you’re purchasing. Who you’re buying it from can also make a huge difference.
So the short answer: we can’t tell you exactly what weed costs. It depends.
For the long answer, read on.
Factors Affecting the Price of Weed
We’ve alluded to some of these factors, but it’s important to break them down in more detail.
The cost of weed varies depending on whether you’re buying from a street dealer or dispensary. It varies by state, and prices in “legal” states can be quite different than those in “illegal” ones. It varies with different qualities of flower, the amount of competition between sellers, and even the time of the year.
Let’s take them one by one.
Street Dealer or Dispensary
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state where cannabis is legal, you have a choice of where to buy your stash.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer on whether a dealer or dispensary will give you a better deal. But generally speaking, you’ll pay a dealer less for your weed than you’d pay at a dispensary.
The dealer doesn’t have to mark up prices to pay for state licenses, a storefront, employees, or overhead costs. The dealer doesn’t pay taxes, needless to say so that cost won’t be passed on to customers, either. Dealers are likely to have a lower-quality product, too, which would also lower the price they can charge.
On the other hand, dealers don’t buy the same volume of products that dispensaries do, so they may have to pay higher prices to their suppliers. They may also factor in the legal risk they’re taking and charge higher prices.
Here’s more to toss into the mix. If there’s a temporary shortage, the dealer may not be able to obtain enough weed to satisfy demand; they may jack up their prices to compensate. But if there’s black market product flooding the market, they may lower prices.
In short, you’ll probably pay more at a dispensary than if you call “your guy.” But you’re likely to get better weed for that higher cost.
Price Differences by State
Some of the states that were first to legalize marijuana, like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, boast the lowest weed prices found anywhere in America. That might lead you to expect that the highest prices are all found in “illegal” states. You’d be wrong.
The cost of medium-quality weed is highest in the District of Columbia, South Dakota, and Minnesota. That’s despite the fact that marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in D.C., and it’s OK for medical patient use in South Dakota and Minnesota. You’ll pay more in those locations than you would in many prohibition states.
The lowest weed cost in the nation? It’s in Mississippi, where only limited medical use has been approved.
So the states’ price differences usually don’t depend on legality. They depend primarily on how much competition there is.
One good example is Michigan. Prices there were among the highest in the nation after the state legalized weed, but they’re slowly coming down from the stratosphere — because more dispensaries are opening and more growers are operating in the state.
In short, where you live is one of the two biggest factors determining the cost of weed.
Price Differences by Quality
Here’s the other major factor.
Just as you’ll pay more for beef tenderloin than chuck steak, you’ll pay more for top-shelf cannabis than you will for the mids or schwag that a dealer may be selling.
Even if the dealer has good connections (or grows it himself), you’re still more likely to get lower-quality weed when you buy on the black market compared to the high-end flower grown by commercial producers and sold at dispensaries.
The better the product, the higher the cost.
Other Factors That Affect What Weed Costs
We’ve already mentioned that higher competition will normally lead to lower prices. There are two factors more to consider.
- Time of Year: Cannabis is a plant, and it doesn’t grow in cold weather. That puts stress on supply chains. In the summer, there’s usually plenty of weed being grown; in the winter, only indoor crops hit the market. Lower supply leads to — anyone? Bueller? — higher prices.
- Quantity: Buying in quantity means lower prices for the customer, whether you’re talking about toilet paper or cannabis. When you buy an ounce, you’ll pay less per gram than if you were only buying a half; you’ll get a better deal when buying a half than when purchasing a quarter.
Did you want numbers? Don’t worry. We have some.
What Does Weed Cost in Different States?
The only reputable index of cannabis prices is the U.S. Cannabis Spot Index. It charts prices by the pound and focuses primarily on overall trends. For example, the latest spot index increased during the first week of April by 1.9% to $1,265 per pound.
Those numbers aren’t any help to the average consumer who can’t even legally purchase a pound of weed. So we have to use anecdotal figures to narrow down the cost of weed in different states.
We’ll compare the prices of ounces since that’s the most reliable set of numbers.
The national average cost of an ounce of high-quality marijuana is $318. For a medium-quality product, it’s $256.
For top-shelf weed, you’ll pay close to $600 per ounce in the District of Columbia (where the sale of cannabis is illegal due to federal law), about $380 in North Dakota, and around $365 in Virginia.
That’s dramatically higher than in legalization “legacy” states; the price per ounce right now stands around $210 in Oregon, $232 in Washington State, $241 in Colorado, and $258 in California.
If you’re willing to settle for medium-quality herb, you’ll see a big difference in your weed costs. It’s still crazy-high in D.C., at more than $500, but it’s down to $326 in North Dakota and $289 in Virginia.
Live out west, or don’t mind a road trip? You’ll pay about $185 in Oregon, $196 in Washington State, and $200 in Colorado for an ounce of medium-shelf weed.
And if that’s way out of your price range, the average national cost for enough flower to roll a medium-quality joint is $6.18; the price ranges from a high of $12.80 in D.C. to a low of around four bucks in Oregon and Mississippi.
What Does Weed Cost: FAQ
Q: Is it worth it to pay lower prices to buy from a dealer?
A: That’s a personal decision, and it depends in large part on how much you trust your dealer. Black market weed can be cut, adulterated, or simply poor quality, while the product at dispensaries will have been tested for potency and safety. There’s also the (admittedly small) risk of buying from a dealer; after all, the transaction is illegal. However, if you have a “regular guy” who has access to the quality of cannabis that you prefer, your actual weed cost may be the most important criterion to use.
Q: Is it much cheaper to grow your own weed?
A: Absolutely, if you’re making the commitment to grow for the long term. If you’re not sure, though, be careful. You’ll have to spend a lot more than the cost of an ounce to purchase all of the equipment that you’ll need for a grow room. The cost of growing outdoors is significantly lower, but the difficulty is much greater. There’s a good chance that your outdoor crop will be a disappointment — and you’ll have to buy from a dispensary or dealer anyway.