Canadians report paying less than $7 for cannabis gram

Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 28, StatCan crowd-sourced 17,139 voluntary responses

Canadians are paying just under $7 a gram for marijuana, on average, according to new data crowdsourced by Statistics Canada.

Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 28, StatCan received 17,139 voluntary reports, submitted online, on how much people paid for cannabis. The data, released Friday, found the national average price for a gram of cannabis was $6.83, although price ranged widely depending on location, quantity purchased and use.

Cannabis was reportedly cheapest in Quebec, coming in at $5.88 a gram on average. It was most expensive in the Northwest Territories, where people reported paying an average of $11.46 a gram. In most other provinces, people paid slightly more than the national average, mostly in the $7 range. Only in Quebec and New Brunswick were cannabis users paying less than the national average.

Of the major cities, Torontonians reported paying the most, at $7.94 a gram. The average price in Montreal was $6.24, while in Vancouver and Calgary people were paying $7.62 and $7.09 respectively.

The crowd-sourcing initiative is part of an effort by StatCan to arrive at a better sense of cannabis pricing ahead of recreational legalization, which is expected this summer. Pricing is important component of the government’s hope of having a legal market eclipse the existing black market.

In December, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government was expecting legal cannabis to be sold at around $10 a gram, with a $1 tax included. At the time, there were indications from Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, that that price could be lower than $10 to compete with the black market.

StatCan cautioned against reading too much into the new numbers, “because the sample is self-selected and therefore subject to many kinds of statistical bias.

“Results for the entire target population, consisting of all Canadians who consumed cannabis during this five-week period, could be significantly different,” StatCan noted.

The data did, however, point towards certain patterns in pricing. Medical patients, for example, reported paying slightly higher prices, with the average price of medical cannabis being reported at $7.21 compared with an average non-medical price of $6.78.

“Interestingly, more individuals reported consuming cannabis for medical purposes without a document (26 per cent) — that is, illegally — than with a document (10 per cent),” the report noted.

Overall, around two-thirds of the respondents reported using cannabis for non-medical purposes, the majority of whom were using on a daily basis.

“The individuals who reported daily use indicated that they consume an estimated 28.0 grams of cannabis per month, about one gram per day. Individuals who consume less than once per day indicated that they consume 6.3 grams of cannabis per month,” the report noted.

As would be expected, people paid less if they bought in bulk. Buyers of individual grams paid an average of $8.36, as opposed to $5.48 for a purchase of 28 grams.

Most of the people reporting also indicated that they believed they were purchasing “high quality” cannabis. “Very few Canadians indicated they were purchasing low quality cannabis. The results were consistent from one province to another,” StatCan noted.

StatCan plans to continue crowd-sourcing pricing data, “so that we can create a rich open set of data all Canadians will be able to use to better understand the transition towards legalization.”

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