What’s the weed worth? How police estimate the value of seized drugs
It was the price of the weed that intrigued readers: On Monday, PennLive reported the seizure in York County of 247 pounds of marijuana.
Beyond announcing the arrest of three California men — one of them a sheriff’s deputy — in the bust, the York County District Attorney estimated the value of the seized drugs to be in excess of $2 million.
A lot of readers thought the math didn’t add up.
Wrote one reader:
There is no way that 247 lbs is worth anywhere near ($2) million dollars. Weed costs about $50 per eighth-ounce on the street. If you split that 247 lbs into 31,616 individual units and sold them for $50 each you’d only have $1.58 million. $750,000 tops in its bulk form. You’d only break $2 million if you could sell all of it in tiny individual units and also overcharge everyone by about 25%.
Law enforcement authorities in York County put the estimated value of the 247 pounds of marijuana seized last week in Hanover in excess of $2 million.
Patrick J. Trainor, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Philadelphia office, could not disagree, but he argued that not all marijuana is the same.
The domestically grown variety tends to be . well not very good, he said. Some of the extremely high-grade stuff — like the super high-octane product coming out of Canada, for instance – can fetch upwards of $5,000 to $7,000 a pound.
“But several million does sound somewhat inflated,” Trainor said.
Trainor laid out several reasons why District Attorney Tom Kearney’s estimated value may not be excessive. PennLive put a call out to Kearney’s office but was told he was unavailable for comment.
For starters, law enforcement agencies generally assign a retail as well as a street distribution value to seized marijuana, Trainor notes. And while both in the end are correct, they usually report the retail value.
A pure, high-grade cannabis can fetch as much as $5,000-6,000 a pound at the retail level. Drug traffickers — just like any other line of business, Trainor said — make their most money not at the wholesale but the retail. And law enforcement, more often than not, like to report the estimated retail value of the seized cannabis.
“It is entirely possible to take a pound of marijuana and cut that up into nickle bags or dime bags and what we would call a nick traditionally used to sell for $5 to $10 if low grade,” Trainor said. “If it’s high grade, the same bag could retail for $100. You could increase your profit margin by literally 200 percent.”
Then there’s the weed’s place of origin.
The York County Drug Task Force with the help of and police agencies from the region last week seized 247 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop. Three men, including a sheriff’s deputy from California, have been charged in connection to the seizure. All three posted $1 million bail each. (Ivey DeJesus/PennLive)
Trainor uses the cultured pearls analogy to explain that one: If you want to buy cultured pearls, you are going to get them a lot cheaper in Tahiti than you would in the U.S.
“You are paying premium for those cultured pearls to be cleaned, packaged and delivered to Tiffany’s in Center City or New York. It’s the same thing with drugs,” Trainor said.
The marketplace – or location of sale – will also affect the value of the substance.
Marijuana, Trainor explains, has a significantly higher street value in a place like York County than it would in a large urban center, such as Philadelphia or New York.
“We see a difference in value between Philadelphia and Allentown,” Trainor said. “Speaking from a Philadelphia perspective, you could go to Bucks or Montgomery or Delaware counties and pay more for it there. It’s going to be the same in York County. It’s going to be much more.”
At Monday’s press conference, Kearney declined to provide detail information about the drub, saying the information was part of the ongoing investigation.
Remember that old Cheech and Chong movie. ‘the bigger the bust, the bigger the boost?’ Turns out advocates for the legalization of marijuana are still using that argument.
Cops, they say, like to inflate the value of the seized drugs because it makes them look good.
“They like to hold them out as achievement later to move further up the chain,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (or NORML).
Almost all — 98 percent — of marijuana arrests in this country happen at the local level, he said. The federal government makes few arrests, he said. Moreover, local departments benefit from millions of federal dollars available through programs such as the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program, which St. Pierre describes as a “slush fund” for local law enforcement.
“The general criteria needed is how many busts you make,” he said. “The higher the bust and value, the greater the calculus for local and state police getting a percentage of massive federal grant programs. Local police are really incentivized to do this.”
Advocacy groups like NORML have for decades made inflated estimates a point of contention, and the fact, that, they say, when it comes to prosecuting marijuana cases, police and attorneys lean toward the higher estimated street values and higher weights.
“From a PR point of view it benefits law enforcement, in their view, to put a high dollar value on drugs or contraband,” St. Pierre said. “It’s a notch on their belt in terms of them being able to say ‘we stopped X or Y amount of drugs going from point A to point B or we were able to keep X amount of drugs from your children. specifically your children!”
The fact that fresh — or wet — marijuana weighs more than the dry variety is not lost on police and courts. The drug has a significant drop in weight over a short time.
And while possessing any amount of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, the greater the weight, the greater the potential sentence defendants face.
“When the brass tacks are exposed, it’s really important from a defense point of view to be able to establish the lowest possible weight,” St. Pierre said. “It’s the weight that largely is the determining factor — not the value. That’s the PR. It’s the weight of marijuana along with prior offenses or guns involved..generally speaking the more weight the greater the punishment. Police very often inflate the value of marijuana.”
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What’s the weed worth? How police estimate the value of seized drugs It was the price of the weed that intrigued readers: On Monday, PennLive reported the seizure in York County of 247 pounds of
What Does Weed Cost? The Complete Weed Price Breakdown
For the longest time, marijuana was an under-the-table commodity. It was talked about in hushed tones and exchanged discreetly so as to avoid detection.
During those dark days, weed prices were largely dependent on the whims of the person doing the selling. There was no online infographic explaining what weed costs. You just paid what “your guy” asked because you didn’t know where else to go.
Thankfully, those days are gone forever and the market has completely changed. Not too far in the future, we’re likely to see a major company that grows or sells marijuana traded on the stock market.
Ganja is now discussed openly by everyone from big-name financiers to the average joe on the internet. In some states, you can even walk into a corner store and purchase a bit of wacky tabacky for the weekend… legally.
That’s all well and good, but the age-old question still remains: How do you know if you’re paying too much for a date with Mary Jane? Don’t fret! The experts at Honest Marijuana are here to help. We’ve done the research and gathered all the information in one place so you don’t have to spend hours looking for the best deal.
In this article, we’ll compare weed prices across the country so you know what the going rate is in your area. We’ll also give you some insight into what affects the price of weed in your state and around the country.
To help you find the information you’re looking for, we’ve categorized the pricing based on the most common quantities of cannabis: gram, eighth, quarter, half, ounce. These are the divisions used by dispensaries from Maine to Florida and Massachusetts to California. All you have to do is walk in and say, “Give me a gram please,” and you’ll be on your way to flying in your very own Blue Dream .
Price Per Quantity
In the sections below, we’ll give you an average price for all the states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal.
Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia (a.k.a. Washington D.C., which isn’t technically a state) have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana.
Those states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
Prices in states where medical or recreational marijuana isn’t legal could vary considerably from this list. Also, keep in mind that the prices listed here are for medium-quality weed. High-quality weed will cost more while low-quality weed will cost less.
These are also just averages. Smaller quantities will likely cost more than larger quantities. It’s also important to remember that a lot goes into pricing marijuana for sale. We’ll delve into this toward the end of the article. But for now, remember that actual prices in your state may vary.
For example, if the price listed here for a gram of weed is $10 or $11, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that your local dispensary might charge $15. But when prices start approaching $20 or more for that same gram of ganja, you have some inkling that it isn’t a good deal.
That said, use this guide as a frame of reference, not as the bottom line, this-is-what-I’m-going-to-pay-or-else number. OK? Let’s get started!
Gram: Price Per Gram Of Weed
The gram is the base unit for measuring marijuana . Technically speaking, it’s a metric unit of mass equal to one-thousandth of a kilogram. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, someone decided to measure weed in larger quantities based on the ounce.
The ounce is a unit of weight roughly equal to one-sixteenth of a pound. So when you’re measuring cannabis, you’re mixing metric and Imperial units. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way of the marijuana world, so get used to it. But back to the gram…
As you’ll see as we go along, the various ounce measurements are based on grams, so it’s useful to know the price for this small quantity.
A great visual reference for a gram is the bottle cap. The size of one bottle cap is roughly equivalent to one gram of marijuana. We say “roughly” because the density of the bud can vary. Because of this variation, the size of one gram can change. But for comparison purposes, the bottle cap makes a good frame of reference.
Another great way to gauge these common quantities is by how many joints they yield. This is by no means an exact science, but your average joint weighs in at 0.7 grams of marijuana. Basically, then, a gram gives you 1.5 joints . Again, this a very rough estimate.
As to the prices below, these are based on the average price for an ounce of medium-quality weed. Actual prices in your area may range from $9-$15 a gram.
Eighth: Price Per Eight Of Weed
An eighth (of an ounce) is equal to 3.5 grams. With our bottle-cap comparison, an eighth of an ounce of weed is roughly equivalent to three bottle caps. An eighth will produce about five joints if rolled sparingly.
Quarter: Price Per Quarter Of Weed
A quarter (of an ounce) is equal to 7 grams. On the visual scale, that’s about seven bottle caps. Remember, it’s not an exact visual representation. It is, however, a good approximation you can use to guesstimate the amount of weed you’re getting.
A quarter of an ounce of MJ will produce about 10 joints rolled with 0.7 grams each.
Half: Price Per Half Of Weed
A half (of an ounce) is equal to 14 grams. You’ve probably figured out the math by now, but just in case: a half an ounce of marijuana would likely yield twenty joints.
Ounce: Price Per Ounce Of Weed
An ounce is equal to 28 grams. A pile that weighs in at an ounce will be about as large as twenty-eight bottle caps. This quantity of marijuana can produce about forty joints.
Now that you’ve got an idea what weed costs in your state (or a state near you), let’s delve into the factors that affect weed price. That way, you’ll know why there’s such a difference between the price of marijuana in Montana and the price of marijuana in North Dakota.
Factors That Affect Weed Price
Weed Prices By State
Where you live is probably the biggest factor affecting weed prices. And it’s not just geography. It’s your state’s stand on legalization. In most places where weed isn’t legal, dealers can go to jail for selling. Because of this, their prices are often going to be higher in reflection of the risk.
Only eight states have legalized recreational marijuana use so far: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
We’re not counting Washington D.C. because, even though they’ve legalized recreational and medical marijuana for adults, it’s still not legal to buy there. Figure that one out.
The other twenty-one states have legalized medical marijuana use, which requires a doctor’s recommendation to purchase. The nice thing is that more states will be considering the question of legalization in upcoming ballots. Should these initiatives pass, it will be much easier for more people across the United States to purchase the green they need.
Looking a bit closer at geography, it’s easy to see why this factor can have a large effect on the price you pay for the weed in your bong. Most weed is grown in warmer climates with fairly stable daytime temperatures that range from 75 to 86 ℉.
Temperatures above 88 ℉ and below 60 ℉ can decrease THC content and slow growth. That means that ideal weed growing locations are few and far between. The plant can be grown in these less-than-ideal locations but the quality of the strain will be affected.
What does all that mean to you, the consumer? It means that the weed you buy has to be shipped in from somewhere else. Transportation has to be taken into consideration, and that cost will be factored into the final price you pay for your marijuana.
What does that look like, exactly? For starters, planes, trains, and automobiles all run on gas, which costs money. Labor (which is also not free) is needed to load, drive, and unload the product to its destination. The price of fuel and labor is then included in the final price you pay. So, as you can see, geography has a lot to do with the price you pay for your wacky weed.
Where You Buy Weed
Again, depending on where you live, you have two options: buying from an individual “on the street” or buying from a registered dispensary or storefront. Where you buy has a major effect on weed prices.
In states where the sale of marijuana is legal, registered dispensaries and storefronts are typically cheaper than individuals selling on the street. The nice thing is dispensaries are also more reputable. They have to follow strict guidelines in the labeling and display of their product.
You’ll always know what you’re getting when you buy from a dispensary. The guy on the street doesn’t have to follow those guidelines, so you never know exactly what you might get into your dime bag.
For one thing, you might be paying a premium for what the guy on the street claims is high-quality cannabis. In actuality, you could be getting the dregs or leftovers (the shake). You wouldn’t want to pay $50 for something that’s actually only worth maybe $8.
For another thing, not knowing what you’re getting when you purchase a drug can be deadly. This is evident by the recent outbreak of overdoses caused by carfentanil-laced heroin.
Carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer that is between 5000 and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. The equivalent of a few grains of salt of carfentanil can kill an adult human. Imagine that stuff showing up in your eighth-ounce of Fruity Pebbles ! It’s better to buy from a trusted source, like a dispensary, and know what you’re getting than to buy from Joe Blow and risk your life.
Depending on where you buy, competition may be another influential factor on the price of weed. If there are multiple individuals or multiple dispensaries selling in the same area, their competition for your business may cause them to lower their prices. If no competition exists, dealers can charge more for their product because it is a relatively scarce commodity.
A prime example of competition in action is two gas stations located on opposite sides of the same street. To get you to pull up to their pumps, gas station A may lower their price significantly for a few hours or an entire day.
In response to gas station A’s price drop, gas station B may lower their prices even more. If you’re a savvy consumer, you keep your eyes on their signs and fill your tank with the gas that costs less.
The same “push-and-pull” reaction can happen between ganja dispensaries in the same area. For example, dispensary A may lower the price of an eighth of Cherry OG to pull consumers off the street. In response, dispensary B may discount the price of a quarter of Sour Diesel .
If you know what you normally pay for these quantities — and if you’re not picky about the strain — you can get a really great deal. All thanks to competition and the effect it has on weed prices.
In states where marijuana is legal, the sale of the weed is always associated with a tax or fee of some sort. Colorado, for example, includes a state tax rate of 2.9% and a special marijuana sales tax of 10%.
And if that isn’t enough, Colorado then applies a local tax (usually 0.5% to 1%) that varies by location on every dollar spent. They also tack on a 15% excise tax on every pound. This tax is paid by the wholesaler but can certainly impact the cost you pay as the end user.
Just for reference, sales tax — the money tacked on to every purchase you make — ranges from 1.69% to 9.45% in the United States. That means that you pay anywhere from a penny to a dime extra per dollar for the things you buy.
Extending that to marijuana sales, in Colorado, you’ll pay almost $0.14 more for every dollar you spend. So if you buy a half an ounce for $100.00, you’re going to pay almost $14 in sales tax.
And even if the tax rate paid by you, the end user, is fairly low, there may be taxes on production, transportation, and packaging (just to name a few) that can have a dramatic effect on the final price of cannabis products in your state.
As you can see, how much of a tax is charged at any point in the supply chain can have a dramatic effect on the price you pay for your fix.
Quality Of Weed
Quality is another major variable that affects weed prices. High-quality ganja is obviously going to cost more than medium- or low-quality stuff. We’re all familiar with this when it comes to gas for our car. Premium-grade gasoline costs more than regular unleaded.
You may not have much control over the quality of the weed being sold in your area, but when prices fluctuate from one week to the next for the same type and quantity, quality may have a lot to do with it.
When You Buy
Cannabis that’s grown outside is usually ready for harvest by September. In the weeks and months following a successful harvest, prices may decrease as the supply available increases.
If you’ve got the money to spend, buying a larger quantity once — instead of a smaller quantity multiple times — may be a way to take advantage of the price drop that comes with a supply increase.
Whether or not you choose to go that route depends on marijuana perishability and preservation. If you can keep your cannabis fresh longer, you’re better off buying in bulk when the time is right in order to save money.
How Your Marijuana Is Grown
Another component that influences the price you pay for weed is how that weed is grown. Cannabis that is grown outdoors is much less expensive to produce. This is because light, water, soil, and temperature are regulated by nature and don’t require a lot of extra money, time, and effort from the growers.
Indoor-grown cannabis, on the other hand, requires special lights, climate control, watering, feeding, and the electricity that makes it all possible. Maintaining and regulating these components can be very labor-intensive, not to mention being expensive to set up and operate.
But while outdoor-grown marijuana may be less expensive to produce, indoor-grown marijuana can be produced at a higher standard. This is because all the elements that nature usually takes care of can be tweaked to perfection by man and his technology.
Indoor-growers can isolate specific wavelengths of light to give the cannabis plant the nourishment it needs. Indoor-growers can control the humidity and precisely manage watering and fertilization. They can also almost completely eliminate insects and other pests that plague the cannabis plant without the need for pesticides.
That means you, the consumer, receive a healthier, natural product and don’t have to worry about toxins in your marijuana. That premium on health and safety can mean a big difference in price between organic , indoor-grown ganja and the same strain of outdoor-grown cannabis.
Putting It All Together
Though amounts may vary widely from state to state, and even city to city, weed prices are beginning to approach some semblance of fair-market value. As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, more and more storefronts will appear to sell it.
As the marijuana industry continues to grow, prices will eventually become fairly consistent across the country. You’ll never pay the same everywhere you go, but prices will be fairly consistent throughout the country. When that time arrives, you’ll be able to know for sure, wherever you are, whether you’re getting a good deal on the weed you need.
Searching for the best weed prices? Look no further! The experts at Honest Marijuana show you what weed costs and tell you why the prices may vary.