How much should legal marijuana cost? Stats Canada is utilizing crowdsourced data to find the answer.
Crush the black market: one of the Canadian government’s main goals on the road to marijuana legalization. To succeed in that goal, they need to know how much weed costs on the streets and undercut the prices of illegal cannabis sales. Now, crowdsourced data from thousands of Cannabis users will be utilized to help attain that data.
Information from PriceofWeed.com, a website that allows customers to anonymously reveal how much they pay for cannabis, will be analyzed to help create a price index model for legal marijuana sales. This data will be combined with Health Canada’s first-ever survey of medical and recreational cannabis users.
Health Experts Recommend Community Based Studies
However, public health experts argue that crowdsourced methods won’t provide data on the illegal part of the industry. If the federal government is serious about beating the underground competition, they recommend community-based studies. These studies would collect data from illegal cannabis users before and after legalization. Experts agree that the price of legal cannabis must be low enough to undercut black-market cannabis, but there are varying estimates of “how low.”
A study by Public Safety Canada states that the national average on PriceofWeed.com from 2011 to 2015 was $7.69. In 2017, the average gram of “high quality” bud on the site costs less, at around $7.50. This is based on 10,000 submissions over the past seven years. In contrast, a report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that $8.84 was the average price of a black-market gram. However, it states prices vary considerably across the country. The report stated,
“The current data collection efforts are simply not sufficient for scholars and policymakers to assess the impact of legalization on the behavior of consumers of cannabis and other substances.”
The July 1st Deadline is Fast Approaching
But time is running out, as Canada prepares to become the second national case study on the dangers and benefits of legal cannabis. Ottawa is scrambling create a framework and policy to measure the effects of the largest policy shift in the last century. Uruguay was first to legalize the recreational sale and use of the drug, but access has been limited. Not to mention, Uruguay has a population that is a fraction of Canada’s.
For Canada to succeed with legalization, they must draw from existing models. But the country will be stepping into uncharted territory facing challenges surrounding their geographic size and population. Especially being the first G8 country to legalize.