Yes, cannabis is too expensive in Massachusetts. But this is only a precursor for a bigger debate.
The question was posed to me recently, how much cannabis does Massachusetts really need? Like, you know, a specific weight. In addition, can legal cannabis be a $2 billion industry in Massachusetts?
Both are good questions, and ones I will eventually get to, but first we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: cannabis is too expensive in Massachusetts. Until we come to grips with this, the other questions are moot.
Colorado has arguably the most vibrant dispensary scene in the country, which makes it an ideal state to aspire to in terms of scene and pricing.
This won’t be an exact apples-to-apples comparison since dispensaries in Colorado sell flower by the gram, whereas Massachusetts dispensaries primarily sell flower by the eighth and up and only pre-rolls come in a gram. So expect a bit of a price increase for the labor of converting a gram into a pre-roll, but it should be within the range to make this a fair comparison.
Overall, the average cost of a one gram pre-rolled joint in Massachusetts is $18 after a 20% tax. Compare that price with Colorado, which is right around $10 after tax, and where taxes vary by county. Keep in mind that Massachusetts only has a slightly higher cost of living than Colorado.
These prices were gathered both from cannabis price tracking websites and by calling dispensaries in Boston, Worcester, Denver, Colorado Springs, and around Grand Junction—Grand Junction doesn’t allow dispensaries within the city.
Eight dollars per gram adds up quickly. And tax rate aside, growers and dispensaries need to do their part to lower prices, help the consumer, and usher in a golden age of legal cannabis on the East Coast.
Alex Mazin, CEO of Bud’s Goods & Provisions, said, “Bud’s is working hard with wholesalers to bring these prices down so they’re fair and competitive with the illicit market.” It’s a good start, but more dispensaries will have to follow suit.
As long as prices remain high, Massachusetts won’t reach its full market potential. People will continue to go through the legacy market where prices have remained down and delivery is often included.
Until cannabis prices come down in Massachusetts, full market potential will be elusive. And until that happens, there’s no way Massachusetts can sniff even a billion dollars in cannabis sales, much less two billion.