Cannabis prices in Canada have soared since legalization with prices on the black market now reportedly less than half that of licensed dispensaries.
The average cost of a dried gram has rocketed since legalization last October, according to users who voluntarily entered what they paid into a Statistics Canada app.
The difference between legal and illegal prices is even more dramatic, with a gram in regulated stores averaging $9.99 per gram compared to less than $6.40 on the black market, some 36 per cent cheaper.
"When the government tries to restrict and limit access, they increase the prices of the available legal supply but consumers always go where there's a deal," according to Vancouver-based cannabis advocate Jodie Emery.
Canada’s priciest pot is in the Northwest Territories where it costs $14.15 per gram.
Legal weed prices have leapt by almost a third in New Brunswick, where it’s $8.27 a gram.
In Manitoba price per gram jumped 28 per cent to $9.14. The cheapest province is Quebec at $6.75 per gram.
“To be honest I’ll probably just continue purchasing from my friends and from (illegal) dispensaries,” a cannabis customer outside The Hunny Pot, Toronto’s first legal store, told CTV earlier this month.
“These prices are ridiculous, they’re $16 a gram.”
The average cost in Ontario now sits at $8.05 per gram, one cent above the national average.
In Alberta cannabis is selling at an average price of $9.07 per gram, according to Statistics Canada data collected up to March 31.
Average usage and low legal purchase levels suggest British Columbians may be sticking with their pre-legalization methods of accessing cannabis – and it isn’t because of a price gap.
According to StatCan, B.C. has seen the smallest post-legalization price increase of any province, with the cost of a gram rising by 3.7 per cent to $7.15.
Some legal cannabis customers have complained of high prices, poor quality and selection, seeing some return to their dealer on the street.
"Seventy per cent of total cannabis that's being consumed was purchased illegally, 30 per cent was from legal sources," said James Tebrake from Statistics Canada.
But many Canadians still prefer to go to regulated shops, where growers and retailers take a cut of profits and the Government gets tax revenue.
A report from Arcview Market Research forecasts total spending on legal cannabis in Canada to grow from $569 million in 2018 to $5.2 billion in 2024.
Marijuana in Nova Scotia is retailing at an average cost of $8.73 per gram – a 19.7 per cent increase from pre-legalization levels.
Prince Edward Island saw the smallest price increase of any province other than B.C., with a five per cent jump leaving the cost of cannabis at $7.69 per gram.
The average cost of a gram in Saskatchewan has risen by 10.3 per cent since last October and now clocks in at $8.02.
This article has been corrected to state the difference between legal and illegal cannabis is that illegal cannabis is 36 per cent cheaper.
---- With file’s from CTV News’ Todd Battis
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