If you’re like many consumers in Canada, the new legal weed is working for you.
Many people didn’t have a trusted dealer, which meant they were putting themselves at risk every time they went to pick up, and lots of people didn’t know where their stash of buds came from. These issues continue to be alleviated thanks to legal pot in Canada.
Many had hoped that we’d see a significant drop in the cost of legal bud by now but so far that hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, the truth is that cheaper weed may remain something we’d all like to see, but not something that is tangible for the time being. But before you get angry, there’s a lot of reasons for why legal cannabis costs what it does, and not all of it relates to taxes and the government. There are several factors at play, ones that benefit us all and have nothing to do with corporate profits.
Why did we legalize cannabis if it was going to make it more expensive?
There’s a common misconception that it’s only taxes which have driven up the price of legal weed, which isn’t really the truth.
First, prices for cannabis vary from province to province. Like with alcohol, each province in Canada independently controls cannabis distribution. The province is responsible for negotiating rates with suppliers, which are then subject to a federal excise tax and different provincial taxes.
The framework in use by the Canadian government for taxation of cannabis (both recreational and medical) has consumers being charged $1 per gram or 10% of total cost (whichever is higher) on top of the provincial sales tax. So, let’s say you’re paying an average of $9-10 for a gram of pot, that means only 10% of the price goes towards taxes.
Growing cannabis has a lot of costs as well, and most of these are known. This includes line items like growing facilities, water, hydro, waste management, seeds or plant stock, growth nutrients, security, transportation etc.
Added costs, or those specific to legal cannabis, include all the stuff it takes to make sure the marijuana being produced is high quality and that production is done safely. Where illegal growers can just grow it and forget it, that isn’t the way licensed producers do business.
The Canadian government has outlined a strict framework that all Licensed Producers must adhere to, in order to legally sell cannabis. This means that for successful LP’s there much more involved. Having products tested and inspected, the required maintenance of pristine growing environments, following proper waste disposal rules and even the need for beefed-up operational security are all added costs that might not apply to an illegal grower.
The fact of the matter is, all these extra processes and the greater care taken by Licensed Producers essentially works in favour of the educated consumer. We all want high-quality cannabis that we know is good, and that we know is safe to consume.
Legal cannabis is tested
Testing for quality, safety, purity and chemical composition is one of the biggest things that sets legal cannabis apart from black-market products. That’s because before any batch of weed can be sold, it must be analyzed by a certified testing lab to determine its safety and what it’s made of.
The main purpose of this analysis is to ensure that the product is free of harmful chemicals, pesticides, and other microbial contaminants. This includes testing for yeast and mould, aerobic microbials, bile-tolerant gram-negative bacteria, salmonella and lots of other unwanted items.
Second, but still extremely important, is testing for potency (THC & CBD levels) and for establishing the plant’s terpene profile. Consumers and medical patients rely on knowing what their cannabis consists of, so they can choose the correct strains and dose properly. Cannabis terpenes have different reported effects and benefits making it necessary to be able to specifically choose what to consume.
Cannabis testing ensures that consumers are purchasing only safe, high-quality cannabis products that will deliver the effects they are looking for. This is something that illegal black-market cannabis doesn’t offer and in our opinion is a vital aspect of having cannabis as a legal drug. Testing for safety and content information will become even more important once concentrates and edibles become legalized.
Licensed Producers have better facilities
Although some would say this is up for debate depending on which Licensed Producer you buy from, now that it’s legal, getting premium cannabis has become the norm. Consumers buying from places like the OCS don’t have to worry about what’s in their weed or how it was grown, because regulations and testing ensure that everything has been done properly.
Licensed Producers are required to have their growing facilities inspected, meaning that you can rest easy knowing your cannabis is being grown in a clean, contaminant-free environment. This verified product quality encompasses all cannabis products that end up for sale to consumers.
For example, follow the production path of a simple pre-rolled joint from Indiva.
First, the cannabis is grown in our state-of-the-art facility, under the care of professional growers. Then, once it is ready and harvested, the dried flower is sent to a testing facility for analysis to ensure it meets all the requirements and is a high quality, premium product. Once the dried flower returns to the Indiva facility, it is precision ground and filled into pre-rolled joints which are manually weighed and inspected before being released for sale.
Instead of some ‘who-knows-what’ joints from a local dealer, consumers are getting lab tested, premium joints where they know exactly how strong it is and which terpenes it contains. It’s these details that really add to the overall enjoyment of the product.
Will the price of cannabis come down in the future?
Of course, we would all like to pay less for our cannabis, but there’s no sure way to know when prices will change in the future. As the industry expands, competition increases and processes streamline, it’s likely that we’ll see better pricing down the road. In the meantime, medical patients with cannabis prescriptions can claim portions of their expenditure as tax deductions and there are initiatives underway to remove the taxation on doctor prescribed medical cannabis completely. Seeing as other prescription meds are tax-free, why should medical cannabis be taxed?
For now, the prices are what they are, and seem fair when you consider all the extra effort that goes into ensuring we can all enjoy premium cannabis. You might pay a bit more, but at the end of the day, your cannabis is guaranteed clean, safe and high quality.