Have Legal Marijuana Prices in Washington 'Plunged' by 40%?


Uncle Ike's

Last November I noted that Washington's state-licensed pot stores were having trouble competing with quasi-legal medical dispensaries and black-market dealers because of the state's hefty marijuana taxes and shortages caused by regulatory delays. But according to Bloomberg News, "Shortages that plagued the start of Washington state's legal marijuana market have eased, sending prices in recreational-pot stores down as much as 40 percent."

The headline makes a stronger claim: "Price of Legal Pot Plunges 40% in Washington as Shortages Ease." Citing the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB), which regulates marijuana merchants, Bloomberg reporter Peter Robison says the average retail price now is $15 a gram, down from "as much as $25 in July, including taxes." Hence the 40-percent "plunge" highlighted in the headline. But these numbers do not correspond to what pot stores are actually charging.

At Uncle Ike's in Seattle, which claims to have the "best prices on legal weed in the state," the cheapest strains, Highwayman and Redheaded Stranger, are going for $17 a gram after taxes. The gram price for Chocolope, Lemon Kush, and Pineberry is $23. Prices are higher at two other Seattle shops, Cannabis City and Ocean Greens, where the cheapest strains cost about $19 and $20 per gram after taxes, respectively. It is hard to see how $15 could be the average price. "Even after the decline," Robison says, the average price for legal pot is "still 50 percent more than the $10 a gram available on the black market." It looks to me like the true difference is closer to 100 percent. I have contacted the LCB about the source of the $15 figure and will update this post when I hear back from them.

The LCB is making gradual progress in licensing growers and retailers, which should ultimately reduce prices, although probably not as quickly or as dramatically as the Bloomberg News story suggests.  As of yesterday, 300 growers had received licenses, with more than 2,000 applications still pending. The LCB so far has licensed almost 100 retailers across the state, including eight in Seattle. It plans to license a total of 334 retailers, with 21 in Seattle.

Addendum: The proprietor of Uncle Ike's points out that the store is currently selling one-gram Cheeswreck and Bluedream joints produced by Gecko Growers for $10 after taxes.

Addendum II: LCB spokesman Brian Smith says the $15-per-gram estimate cited by Bloomberg News "wasn't the average price." According to Smith, Robison's source, LCB Deputy Director Randy Simmons, "was talking about some of the lowest prices we are seeing." Smith adds that the "true average would still be in the low $20 range, based on some still selling at $30 plus." 

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  1. $550-600 an ounce? Ouch.

  2. the average retail price now is $15 a gram.

    That’s 420 an ounce. That is insane.

    1. Cheapest strain at $17 works out to nearly $480 an ounce. Anything decent is up in the range I cited above.

      The street is looking more attractive.

      1. Wait, isn’t WA the state where you can’t grow any plants for personal use? That means only the wealthy can afford this. Why does WA hate the poor? This is a war on the poor.

    2. Yeah, that’s all kinds of fucked up.

      What are prices like in Colorado, I wonder? Do they have less regulation there? A comparison would be awesome.

      1. From what I have heard, prices are much more resonable in CO. My brother is out there and says that you still get better deals not going to the stores, but if you do go outside of the heavily tourist areas prices are more like $10/gram.

      2. Hi! Colorado resident and comment board lurker here..
        So prices here have actually become reasonable, I picked up 1 oz for 125 of some medium grade for Christmas. Some strains can go as high as 400 or so, depending on the supplier and the sucker tourists who pay that. A gram is now about 10 for basic buds, up to 15 for higher grades. Honestly, its worth paying an extra 5 or 10 bucks, eliminating the risk of being ripped off (it always weighs right) or being arrested, etc.

  3. You’re going to have to tell me what the high-end stuff retails for if I’m going to know what to compare it to, Sullum.

    1. Episiarch? Is that you?

      1. The female Episiarch, yes.

        1. Well, he did tell us once that he was having some sort of gender identity crisis. I guess it finally got the best of him.

    2. I’m sure it’s all what would be considered high end stuff in places where you typically have less choice.

  4. Back in my day, we had only 3 kinds of marijuana – ‘Columbian”, which was anything good, $30-35 an ounce depending on supply, “Mexican” which was anything only so-so, $20-25 per ounce depending on supply, and “ditchweed” which was anything crap, $5 a garbage bag full, pay $5 for a bag or get paid $5 to take a bag depending on supply.

    1. And we had to fight the sabertooth tigers to keep our stashes safe.

      1. They were just after the onion on your belt.

    2. Of course, if there was some good stuff around, several of us would go in together and buy a quarter-pound for $100-125, sell 3 for $30-35 and smoke the fourth for cheap.

      Considering what we were making at our jobs and factoring in the wage inflation, that’s still half the price of today – but I’m sure today’s stuff is much, much better quality so what we were paying was probably not really a bargain at all.

    3. Back in my day, when dinosaurs still walked the earth and cell phones hadn’t been invented, there was as you say Columbian, which was $30-$40 an oz seedy buds in some hue of brown or the other.

      Then there was the ditch weed, which I think consisted mostly of leaves, that was dirt cheap but would not get a fly high.

      Then there was the sinsemilla which was called all sorts of names, but was pretty much all home grown and that was $60-$200 an oz.

      1. Oh yeah, I forgot about the Mexican, there was lots of that. And the quality varied from almost ditch weed to as good as the best Columbian or better. A lot of it was actually homegrown and not really Mexican.

      2. As I recall,between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, the ditchweed in my area was actually grown in ditches. During WW2, all that is now corn and soybeans was forced into hemp production and hemp still grows wild every where. Has no appreciable THC though, and is sold mainly to idiots and middle schoolers, though I repeat myself.

    4. If I were to ever engage in such behavior, nowadays I’d be looking at about $200-$300/oz. I think.

  5. My aunt makes $73 every hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for 8 months but last month her income was $19059 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    visit the website ?????

    1. Has she considered selling weed?

      1. She’s running an eWeed business.

    2. Ha. Jobs Phish?

  6. Pshh. Who still talks about grams of bud? It’s all oil and concentrates now. Get with it!

    1. I thought it was about the metric tonnage.

  7. The Leafly menu map of Seattle stores lists the average gram at $10 and most ounces at $220.

    1. That’s actually cheaper than the black market up here. Not by much, but it’s cheaper.

      1. Leafly tortures me, but I can’t stop visiting the site.

      2. DC area, too. From what I hear.

        1. Well, no one seems to know yet if weed is legal in DC, or not. So I assume that to the cops, that means ‘not legal’.

          1. I was talking about the general price of an ounce in the DC area. It’s about $200 – $300, so they say.

            1. $240 – $250 in these part. In season of course. If you don’t stock up on the good stuff at harvest time, then you’re getting crappy commercial the rest of the year.

              1. *parts*

  8. lol that is the most absurd thing I have heard all day!

  9. Some times the price is sixty-five dollars. Prices like that make a grown man holler. Especially when sold by a kid who’s only fifteen.

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