The average price of cannabis in Canada is lower than ever

Canadian dried flower cannabis price and discount history

Editor’s note: This is an update on an article StratCann ran in 2020, using data collected by CannStandard, showing the price in the legal and illegal cannabis markets in Canada. Many of the same issues from that first article remain true: Despite some claims that the black market is significantly cheaper than the legal market, prices in these different streams are actually fairly close. 

The data presented in this article comes from scans of online sources in the legal and illegal market, from provincial retail sites, illicit online sellers, and online aggregators. While there are examples of high- and low-end exceptions to every rule in pricing, these figures pull from a wide array of sources to draw a clever average. Prices, regardless of the source, tend to be around $10 a gram. Some are much lower, some are higher. 

Sidenote: In this article, the term ACMPR is used to refer to those selling within the commercial medial stream. The Cannabis Act replaced the ACMPR. Data collection from CannStandard for the “ACMPR” stopped in April 2019. 

INTRODUCTION

This article explores the price of cannabis products available in Canada, using listings for dried cannabis products from medical, legal and legacy sources taken from September 2016 onwards.

We’ll look at average prices from both legal and legacy sources previous to Canada’s cannabis legalization. And we’ll compare those values to the prices we can observe from both sources after legalization. 

We’ll also look at bulk discounts offered, with respect to each data source to see how price changes with package size, where the best bulk discounts were offered, and how things have changed since legalization

DATASET INFORMATION

The dataset spans from September 2016 to June 2021, and includes listings from Canada’s medical cannabis program (ACMPR), Mail Order Marijuana sites, listing aggregators (Weedmaps/Leafly), provincial web stores, and legal bricks and mortar stores (legal B&M). 

Average Price

The average price for all listings and package sizes included is $9.74 per gram.

Breaking the average up by source; the average of our data taken from the ACMPR was $9.26 per gram, Mail Order Marijuana was $9.45 per gram, the average price from listing aggregators was $9.57 per gram, the current historical average tracked for provincial web stores is $10.48 per gram, and the current average for legal B&M stores is $10.12 per gram.

Below we’ve shown the monthly moving average price, as observed from each source.

Bulk Discounts

Generally, less expensive prices can be assumed with increasing amounts of cannabis being purchased. This trend can be observed in the bar graph below, where we’ve averaged price per gram by package size, and shown the percent difference in price between each size. 

An increase in package size purchased garnered at least a 23% discount in unit price. 

When purchasing an ounce, over all sources, the average bulk discount over the 1g-3.5g package size is observed at 50%. 

Next, we’ll look at price averages from each source in-depth, and see how bulk changes from each, and with time.

MARKET SECTIONS

Medical (ACMPR)

Thirty-four producers were tracked manually starting September 2016. We continued tracking these sources until August 2019, about one year after the ACMPR was replaced by the Cannabis Act.

Data from this source was generated from producer websites; it doesn’t include a medical store that would list many producers.

Primarily producers in the ACMPR listed 5g packages, or increments of, and offered little bulk discounts. Product types were whole flower, smalls, milled, and milled decarb.

The average price tracked for this section of the market ($9.26 per gram), falls below the historical average for the entire dataset. Average price increases with time, and this rate increases in October 2018, when the new legislation is adopted. 

In September 2016, the average was $8.95 per gram from the 20 producers tracked. In April 2019 that average increased to $9.81 per gram, with 34 producers in the market. 

Mail Order Marijuana

Generally representative of legacy vendors, this dataset includes prices from 52 sites from October 2017 to October 2020. 

During that time, we observed an average price of $9.45 per gram. The average price tracked decreased over the date span, from $10.40 in October 2017, to $8.43 in October 2020.

Dried cannabis packages are sold in traditional fractions of ounces in this section of the market. Bulk discounts average 25% from an ounce to a gram, bringing the price down to $7.21 per gram. A good bulk discount would be 45% from a vendor in this category.

Listing Aggregators

Prior to Canada’s legalization, listings for legacy vendors could be found on the two largest cannabis marketplaces, Weedmaps and Leafly. Both large listing aggregators delisted unlicensed vendors after legalization.

Grouping a mix of licensed and unlicensed vendors across the date span (July 2018 to April 2021), the average price observed was $9.57 per gram. 

In July 2018, there were just over 900 stores listing products on one of the two marketplace websites, we observed the average at $9.22 per gram. Since the start of 2021, we’ve observed just over 300 stores with listings on these marketplaces, with an average price of $10.42 per gram for their listings.

This data source typically lists dried cannabis products in traditional fractions of ounces, although that has changed recently. Bulk discounts average 25% from an ounce to a gram. 

Good bulk discounts can be found in the 45%-55% range, and are becoming more frequent in this section of the market. 

Provincial Web Stores

Legal recreational cannabis listings first appeared on provincial websites in October 2018, since then, the historical average price has been $10.48 per gram.

The average price ($11.31 per gram, October 2018) started above the average price observed across all sources in the dataset ($9.47 per gram) but has recently decreased below average to $8.68 per gram.

Flower packages are traditional sizes, fractions of ounces, and nontraditional increments of 5.

Bulk discounts and larger package sizes were rare during the first year of legalization, a year later they became more common, and very competitive in late 2020. On average, an ounce purchase in this section of the market brings the unit price down to below $4.75 per gram, or 55% less than the 1g or 3.5g price average ($10.63 per gram).

In 2021, average price discounts are comparable to the maximum values observed previous to legalization. Some producers also offer a 21g package size, with a deeper discount than the 28g average.

Legal B&M

Our tracking from listings in legal bricks and mortar stores started April 2020, increasing from just over 100 stores to over 700 stores.

Generally, there is a downward trend in average price, decreasing from $11.16 per gram in April 2020, to $9.21 per gram at the start of June 2021.

Package sizes offered mirrors what can be found in provincial stores; traditional sizes, and nontraditional increments of 5.

Bulk discounts average 55%, or $4.69 per gram, the lowest average price observed for an ounce product from any of the sources covered.

SUMMARY

Price Summary

Prior to legalization (September 2016 to September 2018), we observed the price per gram of medical cannabis from the small number of legal producers at $9.18 per gram, in a 5 gram package size. 

Within the same window, the price observed across all package sizes from several hundred MOMs and legacy vendors on Weedmaps and Leafly was $10.28 per gram.

At the start of legalization listings for legal recreational products were listed above the historical average, but have decreased below the average since September 2020. The initial average from October 2018 to April 2020 was $11.02 per gram from legal recreational provincial stores and bricks & mortar, compared to the historic average for the database at $9.74 per gram. Within the past 90 days, the average from these sources has decreased to $9.00 per gram.

Bulk Discount Summary

On average, current bulk discounts are double what was observed prior to legalization from legacy vendors.

Prior to 2019, the best average bulk discount observed in the legal recreational market was a 6.9% discount on a 14-gram package. During the same period, the average bulk discount on an ounce product was 27% from legacy market Mail Order Marijuana online store. 

By the end of 2019, the average bulk discount on an ounce product from legacy market Mail Order Marijuana stores was 25%. During the same period, the average bulk discount on an ounce product from a provincial online store was 44%, but that average consisted of only a few listings from a couple of brands.

As of May 2021, bulk discounts from legal recreational sources are about 55% on average, and the number of listings offered in this category has grown to above 50, which is about 5% of the variation tracked from listing aggregators and Mail Order Marijuana prior to legalization.


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