Weed in Washington costs, on average, half what you'd pay in Illinois

click to enlarge The joint-making assembly line. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
The joint-making assembly line.

Relative to the rest of the country, you don't have to break the bank to catch a buzz in Washington.

While scrolling through cannabis news late last week, I came across a headline that made my jaw drop. On Oct. 28, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story titled, "Illinois pot shops are now rolling in bud, so why does an eighth of weed still cost $80?" The story explains that the $80 price point was on one specific product at one specific dispensary in Chicago, and that the state average is actually $62.

Regardless, that should still seem obscene to people in Washington because it is. According to Budzu, the website cited by the Sun-Times, which uses crowdsourcing to track cannabis prices around the nation, Illinois is home to the most expensive legal recreational cannabis in the country.

Washington is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, according to Budzu's data. Of the 11 states with recreational markets, the Evergreen State ranks as the cheapest in the country — eighths here average $27 while single grams average $10 and change. While Budzu's data isn't able to tell the entire story, since it relies on user submissions, it does a pretty good job.

At Cinder in downtown Spokane, the most expensive gram of flower on the menu will set you back just $12. At Cannabis and Glass in the Valley and the Vault on the South Hill, grams of flower max out at $15, and all three of those stores sell eighths at or below the price point for their most expensive single grams — and that's not even taking into account things like prerolls or bags of shake, which can come in even lower.

Which is to say that cannabis here is a lot cheaper than it is elsewhere. But it's too soon to be hard on Illinois for its prices. The state's market opened up just 10 months ago. Looking at the data from Budzu, you'll see that states with older recreational markets — Washington, Colorado, Oregon and California — tend to be cheaper than those that are newer to the game like Illinois and other states east of the Mississippi.

Washington hasn't always been this affordable, mind you. In 2014, when our legal market opened, I promptly walked out of the first dispensary I walked into because my $30 could only afford a gram. That's where Illinois is now, it seems. Bummer for them, but maybe someday they'll get on our level. ♦

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