I remember the first time I set foot inside a recreational marijuana dispensary. It was May 2014, and the pot shop was a highly awarded location, the Clinic Colorado. Smoking pot was nothing new to me, but buying weed legally certainly was. And the options! The options gave me a stoner hard-on that only Colorado could inspire at the time. After sniffing a few of the best examples of Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies and Strawberry Cough that I’d ever seen, I pulled out my wallet like an adolescent virgin at a strip club, eager to drop cash.
“So $50 should be enough for an eighth, right?” I asked the budtender.
“You’re about $23 short for the mid-tier stuff,” he said with an impressively straight face. After tax, the price was a total boner-kill: upwards of $70 or $80 for an eighth (3.5 grams) of flower. I called a friend and drove to his house, where he gave me four grams of basement weed for $30, and I didn’t buy anything from a dispensary for the rest of the summer.
Two years later, that same dispensary charges $40 for the same amount of potent herb after tax, and that friend doesn’t even bother selling me eighths anymore.
After realizing that people in Denver would just go back to buying marijuana illegally, the same way they did for generations, and facing increased competition as other retail stores opened, dispensaries have lowered their prices — big time. A recent report from pot data firm BDS Analytics listed the average price for a gram of flower (including single grams, eighths, quarters and so on) at $5.77 the week of 4/20 this year and $6.67 during the rest of April, down from an average of $8.86 in the first quarter of 2014, when recreational dispensaries were first allowed to open.
Andy Williams — president and CEO of Medicine Man and Medicine Man Technologies, a Denver recreational dispensary chain and marijuana-business consulting firm with over forty clients in fourteen states — says that like any other industry, the retail pot market responds to factors such as competition and supply and demand.
“My dispensaries were charging $55 an eighth before tax when we first opened in 2014, and now we charge $25,” he says. “But in states like Massachusetts, the prices are still high because consumers don’t have as many options, or the buyer pool is limited because of medical marijuana restrictions. Here, we have availability.”
Williams says that he can fetch around $2,800 to $3,000 per pound of flower on the retail market today; in 2014, he was getting around $6,000.
“I had people waiting in line at 2 a.m. during the first day of recreational sales. They were pretty insensitive to price; it was all about the freedom,” he remembers. “But there was hardly anybody in line from Colorado.”