On day one of le­gal­iza­tion, the cheap­est bud is be­ing sold in New­found­land

Prices de­pend on strain, brand, prov­ince, with many or­ders above $20 per gram

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST - VAN­MALA SUB­RA­MA­NIAM

Cana­di­ans fi­nally know what they will have to pay for le­gal recre­ational cannabis, as provin­cially con­trolled on­line stores opened for busi­ness Wed­nes­day, charg­ing be­tween $5.87 and $17.50 per gram for the newly le­gal­ized drug.

Those prices var­ied de­pend­ing on the strain, brand and prov­ince, and in­cluded ex­cise taxes, but not sales tax and ship­ping fees, which pushed many or­ders above $20 per gram.

The most ex­pen­sive le­gal gram of cannabis was in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, at $17.50. The ter­ri­tory sells weed through its liquor stores, which cur­rently only of­fer five brands to choose from.

The cheap­est weed is be­ing sold in New­found­land and Labrador: ac­cord­ing to prod­uct of­fer­ings on the pro­vin­cial on­line cannabis store, a gram of dried flower sold by Eve & Co., which goes by the brand name The Ad­vo­cate, can be bought at be­tween $5.87 and $6.89 per gram. This spe­cific strain con­tains be­tween 15 to 23 per cent of THC, and zero to one per cent of CBD.

In the most pop­u­lous prov­inces, a gram of pot was priced around the $7 to $13 range. For in­stance, the cheap­est op­tion for those buy­ing from the On­tario Cannabis Store is a gram of “Straw­berry Ice,” pro­duced by North­ern Har­vest, which sells for $7.50. The most ex­pen­sive is “Le­mon Skunk”, pro­duced by seed-spe­cial­ist DNA Ge­net­ics and priced at $13.25 per gram. Both brands have a THC con­tent of slightly over 20 per cent.

The Que­bec govern­ment has said that cannabis in their provin­cial­lyrun stores will be priced as low at $5.25 per gram, but on day one of le­gal­iza­tion, the cheap­est pot avail­able in the SQDC seems to be Aphria’s adult-use brand Solei, which is priced at $8.50 per gram, and is of the Indica strain, which skews heav­ier in CBD con­tent. The most ex­pen­sive gram of le­gal weed in Que­bec for now is Aurora’s “Ba­nana Split,” priced at $11.30.

In Bri­tish Columbia — where many un­li­censed dis­pen­saries have as­serted that they have no in­ten­tion of shut­ting down un­der the new le­gal regime — weed is priced be­tween $6.99 and $13.99 per gram, ex­clud­ing tax. The cheap­est of­fer­ing is an indica-dom­i­nant hy­brid strain called “Shishk­aberry” pro­duced by Seven Oaks, an In­dige­nous-run brand based in Win­nipeg.

The abil­ity of the le­gal mar­ket to dis­place the black mar­ket rests heav­ily on price — an anal­y­sis con­ducted by the con­sult­ing firm Deloitte pre-le­gal­iza­tion put the av­er­age price of il­le­gal weed at $8.24 across Canada. That dif­fered ac­cord­ing to prov­ince with cus­tomers in On­tario will­ing to pay up to $8.33 for a gram of il­le­gal weed, but those in Que­bec pay­ing only up to $7.53 per gram.

Chris James, who runs mul­ti­ple il­le­gal on­line dis­pen­saries in Toronto, told the Fi­nan­cial Post that his prices are “half what the govern­ment charges,” and go as low as $3.50 per gram. “We’re charg­ing $7 per gram for our most ex­pen­sive strains,” James said. He claims that vis­its to his on­line dis­pen­saries soared in the lead-up to le­gal­iza­tion, on fears that un­li­censed mar­i­juana busi­nesses would be shut down un­der the new le­gal cannabis regime.

“I’ve been hear­ing that the re­tail­ers in Al­berta are say­ing it’s go­ing to be $8.68 a gram — that’s their whole­sale price from the govern­ment. Cus­tomers aren’t pay­ing that! Right now for med­i­cal pa­tients, I’m pay­ing like $3 a gram, for the best stuff in the world and we’re charg­ing peo­ple $5 a gram for that stuff,” James said.

At Al­ber­ta­cannabis.org, the govern­ment-run on­line store, the cheap­est dried flower avail­able was priced at $9.24 per gram. Pri­vate re­tail­ers will have to pur­chase their stock through the Al­berta Gam­ing, Liquor and Cannabis Com­mis­sion, which has said that it will charge an av­er­age of $8.90 per gram, in­clud­ing fed­eral ex­cise duty, pro­vin­cial duty and GST.

PAUL DALY/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ian Power is first in line at the Tweed store in St. John’s, N.L. on Tues­day. He made his­tory as the first per­son to buy le­gal cannabis for recre­ational use in Canada.

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