Medical marijuana is poised to become a multi-million dollar business in each of the states where it has been legalized. Once economists begin closely studying this quickly budding industry, however, the big picture will be clouded by the fact that many people are growing their own plants, in which costs can vary. Many growing costs depend on where the pot will be grown and the quality of medicine the grower hopes to achieve. For the patients who buy cannabis from dispensaries, costs will likely be more consistent within states. The following research summarizes factors that affect the costs of medical marijuana.
A big question many people may have about marijuana sold at dispensaries is whether legalization increases or decreases the price of pot. So far in 2014 the prices in the commercial world and black market have remained similar. The variables that have been consistent even before states began legalizing cannabis are:
- where the plants are grown: costs are cheaper for Californians for pot grown in California
- the quality of the strain: usually the more potent the weed, the higher the cost per ounce
- the amount of THC concentration: the higher the percentage of THC, the more expensive
- the time of year: growing season for the most potent pot is usually March through October
- type of product: hash, oils and waxes have higher THC concentration levels and typically cost $20 to $60 per gram
- buds usually are sold per gram or ounce: $5 to $20 per eighth ounce (3.5 grams) typically cost $20 to $60
- edibles are packaged and sold based on dosages, in which a dose can cost between $2 and $5
- tinctures are concentrated liquids that are often sold in one ounce bottles for $15 to $50, depending on potency
It costs more to grow cannabis indoors than outdoors since you will need to simulate sunlight with electricity-driven lighting and temperature control. That's why utility costs, which vary by area, will play a role in growing indoor weed, which requires two separate rooms for harvesting and flowering. Drug policy researcher RAND estimates that a five foot by five-foot growing area can produce 10.5 pounds of cannabis for a cost of at least about $225 per pound. About $75 will be for electricity while the rest will be divided between installing a watering system and miscellaneous that includes seeds, pots, soil and nutrients. A highly elaborate watering system can cost as much as $1000. An individual seed can cost from $6 to $15, but packages of seeds may lower the cost.
If you plan to purchase medical marijuana, you must comply with the laws of your state. Most states require that you register with the state as a medical marijuana patient, which can be free but may cost up to $200, depending on the state. Some dispensaries may offer discounts on cannabis or free products to first time visitors. Discounts and coupons for dispensary deals can be found at THCFinder.com or WeedMaps.com. These sites are helpful at providing locations and menus for legal dispensaries. Costs of medical marijuana may be reduced when buying in bulk at certain dispensaries.
Finally, there are costs of medical marijuana depending on how it is consumed. If you smoke it, you will likely need rolling papers or a pipe. While rolling papers may cost about $2, most glass pipes will cost at least $10. The more elaborate water pipes can cost between $50 and $300. Vaporizers, which are considered a safer way to consume cannabis, will cost from $100 to $700.