Illegal pot now 44% cheaper than legal sources: StatCan

An employee holds a jar of marijuana on sale at the Greenstone Provisions after it became legal in the state to sell recreational marijuana to customers over 21 years old in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S., December 3, 2019. Picture taken December 3, 2019.  REUTERS/Matthew Hatcher
REUTERS/Matthew Hatcher

The price of illegal pot continues to fall as legal sources of cannabis climb, according to the latest crowdsourced data from Statistics Canada.

The average cost of a gram of cannabis climbed 1.76 per cent to $7.50 in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“This overall price increase is attributable to legal cannabis,” the federal agency said in a report.

The overall average price was $7.37 per gram in the third quarter, and $7.87 per gram in the second quarter.

The price gap between the legal and illegal market widened, according to the data. The average legal price increased to $10.30 per gram in the fourth quarter from $9.69 per gram a year earlier, while the average price of illegal cannabis decreased to $5.73 per gram in the fourth quarter of 2019 from $6.44 per gram in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Spending on legal and illegal cannabis in the third quarter of 2019 totalled $1.5 billion. Of these purchases, 38.2 per cent were made legally.

Dried flower represented the lion’s share of cannabis spending in the third quarter, at 60.7 per cent, followed by vape (19.5 per cent), and edibles (seven per cent). Only dried flower and some oil products were legal in the first three quarters of 2019.

Quebec had the lowest legal cannabis prices on average in 2019 at $7.88 per gram. New Brunswick had the highest legal prices at $11.36 per gram.

New Brunswick had the lowest illegal market prices, at $4.90 per gram. Ontario was the highest at $6.21.

Men, who accounted for two-thirds of the submission to the StatsCannabis hub in 2019, were found to purchase from illegal sources more often than women. In 2019, 52.4 per cent of cannabis purchases by females were made legally, compared with 38.2 per cent of purchases by males.

Statistics Canada based these conclusions on price quotes gathered using its StatsCannabis crowdsourcing application between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The agency urges caution when interpreting the data, as the quotes are self-reported.