In season five of the popular television show The Office, the eccentric Michael Scott pays $500 for some weed, which turns out to be a caprese salad. No one wants to be a Michael — but almost everyone overpays for cannabis at some point.
Unlike Michael, most know the difference between lettuce and weed. However many wonder if the price of their bag of cannabis is fair. Before the internet, people usually paid whatever their dealer asked. There was no data source for the average cost of cannabis.
Luckily this is the future. The national price index Price of Weed provides user-submitted data on the average cost of cannabis. We analyzed that data from September 2020 to find the average price of cannabis flower in each state in the U.S.
Please note this data is a general estimate. The cost of cannabis widely varies depending on the product, your area, and who you buy from.
The More You Buy, The Less You Spend
The average cost of 1 gram of high-quality cannabis flower in the U.S. is $12. This number derives from the price $326, the average cost of an ounce of high quality cannabis flower in the U.S.
A gram of cannabis flower is about one joint’s worth of weed, and is generally the smallest amount available for purchase. Buying a gram is not very cost effective. Usually the more you purchase, the cheaper it is.
Imagine making a batch of brownies. You can either sell each brownie individually, which takes time, or you can sell the whole batch for the quickest profit. Not everyone wants a whole batch, so you encourage them by charging less the more brownies they buy.
That’s why buying in grams is more expensive. It is not surprising to see grams sold for more than the $12 national average.
The quality of the cannabis also affects the price. For instance, medium-quality flower is about $266 an ounce in the U.S. That is $60 cheaper than the price of high-quality bud.
Buying in Ounces
Many people prefer buying more than a gram. The largest amount generally purchased is 1 ounce. An ounce of cannabis is 28.35 grams, or about a mason jar’s worth of flower. Depending on the consumer, an ounce may last up to a month.
States with medical or recreational cannabis usually restrict the amount of cannabis someone can have. For example, recreational users in Colorado may possess up to 2 ounces of flower. Possession of more than 2 ounces and less than 6 ounces is penalized with a fine of up to $700.
In states where cannabis is illegal, the amount of cannabis possessed determines the penalty. For example it is a felony in Indiana to possess over 30 grams, punishable by up to 2 years in prison.
The Effect of State Legality on Prices
While many believe legalizing cannabis raises its price, some may be surprised to know the six states with the least expensive cannabis allow legal recreational use.
In states where cannabis is fully legalized for recreational use, the average cost of a gram of high-quality cannabis flower is $10.
In all other states, the average cost of 1 gram is $12 — regardless of if cannabis is decriminalized in the state or not.
The most expensive place in the U.S. to purchase cannabis is the Capital. The cost of an ounce of high-quality cannabis in Washington D.C. is $598, almost twice the national average.
Cannabis is recreationally legal in Washington D.C. despite being under federal jurisdiction. That means the federal government oversees the city and prevents local government regulation of cannabis sales like in a state.
Cannabis is so expensive in the city due to the limited supply and the inability of the city to establish a legal recreational cannabis market because of federal jurisdiction. All of the medical weed sold in the District comes from a few growers in the city, according to Washington City Paper.
Most Expensive States to Buy Cannabis
North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia are the most expensive states to purchase cannabis. All also restrict the purchase of cannabis in some way. For example, there are no legal cannabis programs in Virginia and only medical programs in North Dakota and West Virginia.
The average cost of 1 ounce of high-quality flower in North Dakota is $384. The average cost of an ounce of high-quality flower in Virginia is $365 and $363 in West Virginia.
Least Expensive States to Buy Cannabis
You can find the cheapest cannabis prices in states with legal recreational cannabis use.
Oregon is the least expensive state to purchase cannabis in. An ounce of high-quality flower in Oregon is $211. A gram is $7. Washington state is the second least expensive at $233 an ounce, $8 a gram. Colorado, California, Montana, and Nevada follow after.
The Greater the Access, the Cheaper the Price
The effect of the legality of cannabis on prices is not well researched. However, research shows that legally bought cannabis can cost consumers more than cannabis purchased on the black market. That’s because of the additional regulation fees and taxes associated with dispensary-sold cannabis.
In Illinois, where cannabis is legal for recreational use, cannabis sales are taxed up to 42% — and that is not including the 7% state wholesale tax. Illinois is the ninth most expensive state to purchase cannabis in. Part of the problem is high taxes and the demand far exceeds the amount of cannabis available to purchase, according to Block Club Chicago.
However, the legalization of cannabis in a state may also lower the prices of cannabis purchases illegally. In 2017, Oregon overproduced cannabis by one million pounds, according to Cannabis Business Times. Without any legal outlets to sell the excess, it made its way onto the streets for much cheaper prices than what sold in the dispensaries.
It’s all about supply and demand; limited supplies can drive up costs, as is the case in Washington D.C., while too much access can drive them down, like in Oregon.
At the end of the day, the cost of cannabis comes down to access. The greater the access to the product, the cheaper it is.