It should come as no surprise, given Connecticut’s generally high cost of living, that we’re also apparently paying higher prices for marijuana than a lot of places around the U.S.
A new effort to use “crowd sourcing” to provide a map of marijuana prices across the nation indicates that portions of Connecticut have some of the highest grass prices around, with much of this state paying $400 per ounce or more for weed.
That’s the bad news for marijuana smokers. The good news, according to the “Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment” by the feds National Drug Intelligence Center, is that “the availability of marijuana remains relatively high, with limited disruption in supply or price.”
The 2009 report (the latest available) also shows that the potency of pot being sold in the U.S. has more than tripled since 1988. “This continuous yearly increase can be partially attributed to improvements in outdoor and indoor cultivation methods,” according to the study’s authors. So you’re most likely paying higher prices for pot these days, but it also probably has a much bigger kick.
Crowd sourcing is an increasingly common way to use information from many different individuals — in this case pot consumers — to compile data on something. For the mapping effort by flowingdata.com and flowingsheep.org, people from around the country sent in the prices they paid for dope and those numbers were averaged to produce a market price map.
In many ways, the map reflects basic economic theory.
Prices appear to be lowest in regions, like northern California and southern Oregon, recognized as major domestic pot producing areas. Where an agricultural product is locally grown and abundant, prices are likely to be low, down in the $210 per ounce range, according to this survey. Locales with easy access to major pot exporters like Mexico and Canada also have lower consumer costs.
In states like Connecticut where large-scale marijuana cultivation isn’t that common and imported dope has farther to travel, prices tend to be a lot higher.
The crowd-sourcing map indicates that western Connecticut has the highest prices in this state, with average prices at $400 an ounce or more, while eastern Connecticut pot consumers paying slightly less.
Wayne Kowal, the civilian public education coordinator for Connecticut’s Statewide Narcotics Task Force, says reports from his organization’s offices around the state are generally in line with those crowd-sourcing estimates.
“There’s such a wide range,” says Kowal. “It [the price of pot] really depends on the specific product.” Low-grade marijuana, with a lower percentage of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) can be bought in Connecticut for $150 to $200 an ounce, according to different state police field offices around the state. The high-grade dope will cost you $400 per ounce or more.
As with most products, wholesale prices for pot tend to be considerably lower than retail prices.
“The more middle-men you have, the more profit gets tagged on,” Kowal explains, which means that each person involved in transport or distribution adds his or her additional bit of profit for that pot sale.
One source on the University of Connecticut’s main Storrs campus says students there are usually paying $50 to $60 for an eighth of an ounce of grass, or about $20 per gram, which would usually be enough for two joints.
“There really isn’t any cheaper stuff available around here,” says this source, who obviously wanted to remain anonymous.
A pot consumer in an urban area in southern Connecticut (who also doesn’t want to be identified) reports that “a pretty typical rate is $60 for an eighth” of an ounce for fairly potent dope.
Kowal says Connecticut law enforcement officials have no good information on how much grass is being grown locally in this state compared to how much is coming in from outside.
The national experts who put together that domestic cannabis cultivation report say the same: “The amount of marijuana available for distribution in the United States is unknown; an accurate estimate ... is not feasible.”
What is clear is that indoor pot growing, often involving sophisticated hydroponics and grow lights, is on the rise.
Kowal says Connecticut authorities believe that indoor versus outdoor cultivation here tends to fluctuate with the warm-weather growing season, with outdoor marijuana farming rising as the season begins in May and subsiding in October with the return of cold weather.
Connecticut has just decriminalized possession of less than half an ounce of pot, but Kowal says it’s unclear exactly how that will impact this state’s pot growers.
“We’ll have to see how that plays out,” he says.
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