Business, News, Politics

Medical Cannabis Prices Vary Widely Between States

January 20, 2021 03:18 pm ET
Medical Cannabis Prices Vary Widely Between States

Medical cannabis helps millions of patients across the U.S. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, more than 4.3 million Americans have medical cards. That’s almost 2% of eligible persons in states where medical cannabis is legal, as of December. However, access to medical cannabis is not the same across states. In a study of recent cannabis prices based on a crowd-sourced price index, an ounce of cannabis can be as much as $600 and as little as $200. 

Which States Have the Highest Priced Cannabis

According to the price index, the District of Columbia is the most expensive by a significant margin, with the average price being $597.88. The next two highest states were North Dakota ($383.60), and Virginia ($364.89).

It’s of note that cannabis use and purchasing is quite restricted in these states with higher prices. In the District, it is illegal to purchase cannabis and they have no legal dispensaries, meaning the market is mostly underground despite its legal status. This could lead to higher prices. Since the price index is crowdsourced, it includes illicit prices, including Virginia where cannabis has no legal status. 

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennslyvania also tops the list of high-priced cannabis. An eighth of an ounce of cannabis sells for $58 in the Keystone state, compared to $35 in California and $40 in Maine.

“The patient community is always outraged about the prices,” Luke Shultz, a member of the state’s medical marijuana advisory board, told the Post-Gazette. “I’m not sure where the price should be. But we’d sure like to see it lower.”

According to the Post-Gazette, the high prices may be attributed to draconian regulations imposed by state legislators and an advisory committee that is limited in what they can do to keep prices lower. 

Prices of Cannabis in Different States

According to Statista, the following are the average prices of an ounce of high-quality cannabis as of October 2020. The U.S. average price was $319.04.

  1. District of Columbia: $591.42
  2. Illinois: $352.13
  3. Oklahoma: $342.21
  4. Connecticut: $332.21
  5. Texas: $$323.35
  6. Florida: $298.62
  7. Arizona: $296.58
  8. Michigan: $289.53
  9. New Mexico: $$283.34
  10. Nevada: $271.48
  11. Montana: $266.18
  12. California: $258.51
  13. Colorado: $241.38
  14. Washington: $233.93
  15. Oregon: $209.99

It’s interesting to note that those states with the lowest price per ounce are ones that have embraced medical cannabis, if not recreation cannabis, entirely. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis all the way back in 1996 (Arizona also legalized medical cannabis this year, but it was rendered ineffective due to a technicality in the ballot measure.) Next came Oregon, Alaska and Washington in 1998. 

While these states had hard roads to legal distribution, their early entrance into legal cannabis may have allowed them to put systems in place to keep prices low. Additionally, as Colorado, Washington and Oregon have legalized recreational cannabis, there are incentives for allowing medical patients to have easier access to their prescriptions. 

Could States Limit the Prices of Medical Cannabis?

In states and territories where medical cannabis is legal and expensive, little is being done to limit the high costs of cannabis. But could they be doing more?

According to the Post-Gazette, Pennslyvania’s medical-marijuana law permits the agency to cap prices and set up a fund to help defray costs for the poor. But such steps may not be taken for years, if at all. Agency staff said the law blocks it from tackling prices until it has first adopted final regulations and paid back the state $3 million in seed money. And officials say it won’t meet those conditions until late 2022, at the earliest. Additionally, $20 million in revenue generated by cannabis sales—which should have gone toward that seed money debt—was recently sent to the state’s general fund to help with the coronavirus pandemic efforts.

One reason why Pennsylvania may have higher prices is the requirement that cannabis be grown indoors. In Maine, where an eighth of an ounce only costs $40, and in Western states like Arizona and California, growers can produce outside, requiring less overhead like hydroponic systems and lights, not to mention extreme utility costs. 

Medical Cannabis Costs Less Than Recreational Cannabis

As more states legalize recreational cannabis, it may be tempting to treat your condition without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. But there are still benefits to getting a medical card versus buying recreationally. The biggest when it comes to cost is the tax differences. Many states wooed voters into approving recreation cannabis due to the tax revenue it would produce. And in every legal state, the marijuana tax for medical patients is far lower than the tax rate for recreational consumers. In some cases, the difference is as high as 10% to 30%, leading to an incentive to treat your medical condition through the appropriate channels. 

Post Your Comments

Stephanie Swearingen says:

January 22, 2021 at 3:05 pm

Your statistics people are WWAAAAAYYYYYY off with pricing for flower. An Ounce of medical herb, full flower is between 380-400$ per ounce. Should definitely have those people check their sources because literally every dispensary across the board sells 1/8 for 40-50$ per container. That’s a lot more than the 296 they list.

Reply
James says:

January 22, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Why is the state of New Jersey and not listed on this article. We’ve had medical cannabis for awhile. And our prices are just as high as pennsylvania. If not more. And our selection of products is than pennsylvania. We are also currently waiting for our governor to finally sign the legislation that was passed via referendum legalizing recreational cannabis.

Reply
lokiidokii says:

January 22, 2021 at 9:35 pm

Clearly, y’all didn’t take into account OH, where it’s $368-$396+

Reply
Jeffery Chandler says:

January 23, 2021 at 1:35 pm

I want to sign up for discount card …info

Reply
Daniel Petras says:

January 23, 2021 at 7:45 pm

Thank you for this information! Daniel

Reply
Carl Longosky says:

April 27, 2021 at 5:07 pm

I am a Pennsylvania medical cannabis patient. I am retired and am now forced to live on SS. I have several health issues (including chronic pain and neuropathy). Cannabis is more effective for alleviating my pain and increasing my quality of life. The prices are too damn high. I can generally only afford enough for about two weeks each month if that. The rest of the time I have to suffer! I travel to Oregon a few times a year and there prices are so much more affordable and there’s always some kind of deals being offered. Come on Pennsylvania help us old poor bastards out!

Reply
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