In this piece, we’ll delve into the most expensive weed markets 2023. But before we dive into that, let’s briefly touch upon the global landscape of the cannabis industry, the reasons behind the steep prices in certain legalized regions, and a glance at the current state of the black market.
Across the waters in North America, nations like Canada and Uruguay, along with numerous U.S. states, have warmed up to the idea of recreational cannabis over the past ten years. The medicinal use of cannabis has garnered even wider acceptance, with roughly 30 countries on board, including the majority of the European Union.
Interestingly, Germany has hopped on this train too. The European powerhouse recently set plans in motion to relax their stance on cannabis. This means that soon, the largest country in the E.U. will decriminalize possession up to certain limits. Plus, they’re opening the doors to ‘cannabis clubs’, letting enthusiasts purchase and enjoy their favorite strains recreationally.
Global Cannabis Market
In our previous article about the 20 Cities with the Highest Weed Consumption in the World, we highlighted the impressive growth of the global cannabis market. To give you some numbers: in 2022, the market was worth a staggering $47.32 billion. Fast forward to 2023, and it’s expected to jump to $57.18 billion. Hold on tight, because by 2030, we’re looking at a potential market value of $444.34 billion, which translates to a robust CAGR of 34% over the period.
Now, when it comes to leading the charge, North America is both the current big player and the region pegged to grow the fastest. What’s behind this booming interest in cannabis? Well, apart from its recreational appeal, there’s growing global acknowledgment of its potential medical and therapeutic benefits. Just a fun fact: cannabis holds the title for being the most widely grown, trafficked, and used drug around the world.
Why Some Legalized States Have High Weed Prices?
In the good ol’ USA, even with more states giving the green light to recreational cannabis, the cost of this green goodness varies quite a bit from one state to another. What’s the deal with that? Well, each state comes with its own rulebook, market whims, and, frankly, bureaucratic hurdles. Even though you’d think that one could just haul some Californian stash over to New York, federal laws step in to remind you that marijuana is still on their no-no list. Each state is like its own little island when it comes to this industry. No crossing state borders, folks. It’s like a bunch of individual weed bubbles, each with its own set of rules.
Now, if you’re on the West Coast, you might have noticed some pretty friendly price tags lately, especially in states that have been in the weed game for a bit. But if you’re chilling on the East Coast, in places like New York or New Jersey, brace yourself for some steeper rates. Why? Simple: high demand meets limited supply. It’s all pretty new for them, and the supply is still catching up. For instance, New Jersey, the Garden State, has just 13 cannabis growers, and only 10 of them are in the recreational business. There’s also not much competition, as a mere 10 companies own all 24 recreational dispensaries there. Prices will probably chill out when more businesses dive into the scene.
And it’s not just the local stores setting high prices. Even the big players in the game, like Curaleaf Holdings, adjust their rates based on local vibes. For instance, grab an eighth-ounce from one of their New Jersey dispensaries, and you’re looking at $50 before the taxman shows up. But in Connecticut, that’s $36, and in places like Nevada and Arizona, just $20. They’ve also decided to back off from states like California, Colorado, and Oregon, where competition is tight and prices are low.
But hang on, there’s more to the story in New York. They’ve got some sky-high tax rates for cannabis, especially with an extra tax based on the THC potency. So, you might end up paying a tax rate of anywhere between 32% and 41%, depending on what you’re buying. This is why local cannabis advocates are pushing to ditch the potency tax and keep things simple with a flat 20% retail tax.
Cannabis Black Market State
In places where lighting up a joint for fun isn’t yet on the up-and-up, the shadowy world of the black market fills in the gap. Take the U.K., for instance. There’s a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs that estimates the U.K.’s underground cannabis market at a cool $3.3 billion. Imagine: 255 tonnes of the green stuff sold to nearly 3 million eager buyers every year. The kicker? If the U.K. made cannabis legal, they could rake in a tax bonanza north of $1.27 billion annually – and that’s before counting the potential savings on public services.
Jump over the pond to the U.S., and it’s a similar story. You’d think with states legalizing weed, things would be sorted, right? Not so fast. A study from Whitney Economics suggests a whopping 75% of all cannabis sales in the country are off the books. These sneaky sellers aren’t saddled with taxes or bothered by state borders, unlike their legal counterparts.
The spotlight’s on New York for a second. Their attempt to roll out a legal recreational cannabis market has, well, been a bit bumpy. Some say too many rules and a tangled web of licensing have made things harder than they should be. NYC Mayor Eric Adams dropped a bombshell: he reckons there are about 1,500 illicit dispensaries operating in the city.
And here’s a reality check – black market cannabis can be risky business. We’re talking products that might be way stronger than expected or downright harmful. It’s a double whammy: bad for folks buying and bad for the legit cannabis industry.
Speaking of cannabis, let’s segue into our list of Cities with the Priciest Weed Around the Globe.
The Approach We Follow
For this article, we took a deep dive into the 2023 Cannabis Price Index from the CFAH, hunting for the cities where your weed wallet might feel the pinch. We wanted our list to resonate, so we kept our focus on the big cities – those bustling with 200,000 folks or more. And when cities ended up in a tie based on weed prices? Well, we used their yearly cannabis consumption to break the deadlock.
1. Tokyo, Japan
Price of Weed per Gram: $33.8
If you’re a go-getter looking to ride the ‘green wave’, Japan might just catch your eye. I mean, it’s the world’s third-biggest economy and comes packed with folks who are all about their health, have some serious cash to spend, and are on the hunt for anything that’ll make them feel a touch better. The catch? Japan’s pretty tight when it comes to cannabis rules, especially in East Asia, where they’re already not big fans of the stuff. To give you an idea, only about 2% of the locals have even tried marijuana.
But here’s the silver lining: CBD gets the green light in Japan. It’s been on the shelves since 2013, and folks are warming up to it. With its growing popularity, some sharp minds predict Japan’s legal cannabis game could be pulling in a sweet $800 million by 2024.
Oh, and here’s a fun fact for you: Tokyo tops the chart for the priciest weed in the world.
2. Dublin, Ireland
Price of Weed per Gram: $22.5
You might think Ireland keeps it strict with cannabis – it’s a no-go for fun, and if you need it for health reasons, you’ve got to get a thumbs-up from the Health Ministry each time.
But here’s a curveball: Ireland ranks pretty high on Europe’s list of top weed-consuming countries. Based on a 2021 Eurobarometer survey, about 17% of the Irish folks are indulging in some form of the green stuff.
And a heads-up for those heading to Dublin: it’s where you’ll find the priciest pot in all of Europe.
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Price of Weed per Gram: $22.1
In Estonia, the cannabis rules are a bit of a mixed bag. If you’re carrying less than 7.5 grams, you’re mostly looking at a slap on the wrist and a fine. But carry more, and you might just be looking at an Estonian cell for up to 5 years. Even though weed’s the go-to drug in Estonia, the general vibe around it? Super traditional.
This not-so-chill stance from the Estonian bigwigs means weed prices in the country are climbing.
4. Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel
Price of Weed per Gram: $21
In Israel, the weed scene’s kinda funny. Even though it’s technically a no-no to light up, head to any patio in cities like Rishon LeTsiyon, and you’ll see folks casually rolling and puffing away. It’s wild, but you’ll probably spot more public pot smokers in Israel than in places like Canada, where it’s 100% legal. Just to drop some numbers on you: a recent survey found that 27% of Israelis aged between 8 and 65 had a toke or two in the past year. That’s a huge jump from the 8.8% back in 2009.
With so many folks getting in on the green action and it still being off the legal books, prices for weed have soared in Israel.
5. Oslo, Norway
Price of Weed per Gram: $20.1
Norway isn’t really the go-to spot for lighting up some recreational weed – it’s straight-up illegal. And with the chilly Norwegian weather not exactly being a green thumb’s dream for growing pot, most of it’s gotta be shipped in. That’s a surefire recipe for some steep prices.
Now, most folks in Norway are getting their hands on imported hash, and honestly, a lot of it’s not top-notch. Pure pot? It’s just about 20% of the market. So, if someone wanted to grow local weed, they could make a killing. But moving from a couple of plants on the windowsill to a full-blown operation? Not many takers.
By the way, if you’re checking price tags, Norway’s up there among the priciest spots for weed.
6. Moscow, Russia
Price of Weed per Gram: $20
Russia isn’t playing around when it comes to cannabis – it’s all off-limits, no matter the THC content. Case in point: Marc Fogel, an American teacher, strolled into Russia with a mere 0.6 ounces of medical weed. Next thing he knew, by June 2022, he got slapped with a 14-year prison sentence.
Oh, and just a heads-up: Moscow’s hitting the charts, landing in the sixth spot for the priciest cities to score some green.
7. Helsinki, Finland
Price of Weed per Gram: $19.7
Finland isn’t really vibing with weed as much as its EU neighbors, which probably explains why the price tag’s a bit steep over there. But hey, growing it at home? Way easier on the wallet. No wonder more folks are rolling the dice and growing their own stash, even if it’s a bit risky legally.
8. Washington D.C., USA
Price of Weed per Gram: $19.1
Guess what? Out of all places in America, Washington D.C. takes the crown for the priciest pot. Kinda wild, right? The capital’s got this tricky situation with limited supply and, because of all the federal red tape, they haven’t really set up a legit market for recreational weed. Go figure.
9. Seattle, WA, USA
Price of Weed per Gram: $18.2
In Washington, even though the state has some of the steepest cannabis tax rates in the U.S., customers are often pleasantly surprised to find that prices in legal dispensaries are still lower than what’s found on the black market. Annually, this translates to a whopping half a billion dollars in tax revenue for the state, which they funnel into healthcare and essential government services.
10. Üsküdar, Turkey
Price of Weed per Gram: $16.3
In Turkey, while recreational cannabis is off the table, there’s a green light for its use in specific medical and research scenarios. Interestingly, the underground market boasts pretty potent stuff; herbal cannabis can reach THC levels of up to 27.34%. And if you’re talking about hash? That can climb to a staggering 25.21%.
11. Swindon, United Kingdom
Price of Weed per Gram: $16.2
In the U.K., the hefty price tag on Kush comes down to simple supply and demand. With people ready to shell out for it and current drug laws not providing any means to even out the market, prices stay high. For those looking for a budget-friendly option, growing their own seems to be the only way, although that comes with the risk of legal consequences. And it’s not a small crowd either; about 3 million folks in the country are believed to enjoy cannabis on the regular.
12. Riga, Latvia
Price of Weed per Gram: $15.6
While Latvia hasn’t given the green light to cannabis, the relatively minor slap on the wrist for having small amounts means it’s not a rare pastime. That said, top-shelf weed comes with a top-shelf price, leading many to opt for hash instead. In fact, if you’re looking at global price tags, Latvia’s capital is up there with the priciest places to score some green.
13. Santiago, Chile
Price of Weed per Gram: $14.8
Over the past two decades, Chile has seen a steady rise in marijuana use, making it one of Latin America’s top cannabis consumers. Even though growing it is technically against the rules, cultivation is blossoming in this South American nation. Thanks to a mix of careful farming and top-notch genetics, Chileans have developed a taste for the finer side of weed, expecting nothing but the best quality.
14. Manila, Philippines
Price of Weed per Gram: $14.8
The Philippines has some of the world’s strictest drug laws, with severe penalties including death for even minor cannabis possession. It’s this high risk that largely contributes to the steep prices of the drug in the country.
15. Bucharest, Romania
Price of Weed per Gram: $14
Even though Romania has given a nod to the medical use of cannabis, it’s still listed on their High-Risk Drugs table, meaning recreational use is a no-go. Interestingly, Bucharest finds its spot as the 15th city on our list of places with the priciest weed around.
16. Vilnius, Lithuania
Price of Weed per Gram: $13
Cannabis seems to be the drug of choice in Lithuania. In fact, about 10.8% of folks aged 15 to 64 have given it a try at some point. While it’s legal in the country, there’s a catch – it’s limited to medical purposes only.
17. New York, NY, USA
Price of Weed per Gram: $12.5
Weed’s a bit pricier in the Empire State, and a big chunk of that comes from the high THC potency tax, especially when you stack it up against prices in other U.S. regions. Since New York City opened up to legal cannabis just last year, it’s been a hotspot for big-name cannabis ventures. Take Tilray Brands, Inc., for example. Originally hailing from Canada, they’ve made quite the buzz after snapping up Hexo for a cool $56 million. They’re not just making waves; they’re gunning to be big shots in the U.S. recreational cannabis scene. With a hefty revenue of $627.1 million last year, Tilray Brands easily lands a spot on the list of the world’s cannabis giants.
18. Athens, Greece
Price of Weed per Gram: $12.5
Since 2017, Greece has given the green light to medical marijuana, but if you’re thinking of lighting up recreationally, that’s still off the table. The decision to legalize the medical side of things was partly to give the economy a lift through exports. Interestingly, there’s a significant flow of cannabis coming in and out through the Greek-Albanian border.
19. Munich, Germany
Price of Weed per Gram: $12.5
By the end of the year, grown-ups in Germany will get the green light to grow and enjoy recreational cannabis either in the comfort of their own homes or at non-profit member clubs. It’s a bit of a pivot from earlier plans the government had, which aimed at making it available in local shops or pharmacies all over. But for now, if you’re picking up some weed in Germany, be ready to shell out – their prices are some of the steepest globally.
20. Rome, Italy
Price of Weed per Gram: $12.2
Right now in Italy, if you’re looking at cannabis for medical or industrial purposes, it’s all good — but with tight regulations. As for recreational use, it’s not exactly legal but it’s not a criminal offense either. Interestingly, a good chunk of the medical marijuana in Italy’s pharmacies comes from the Netherlands, and that import factor nudges the prices up. Oh, and fun fact: Rome is up there on the list of cities that really love their weed.