How Much Will a Legal Marijuana Habit Cost You?

May 21, 2013

If you’re an aver­age pot smoker in Colorado—paying aver­age prices for average-quality marijuana—you can expect to spend around $650 on weed next year. A study con­ducted by the Col­orado Futures Cen­ter at Col­orado State Uni­ver­sity aimed to get to the bot­tom of how much the state can expect to col­lect in tax rev­enues now that mar­i­juana is legal. By doing a lit­tle extra math, we can get a rough esti­mate for what the aver­age mar­i­juana enthu­si­ast will spend annu­ally as well. Researchers esti­mate that in 2014, 642,772 Col­orado res­i­dents, or about 12.5% of the state pop­u­la­tion, will take advan­tage of pot’s newly legal sta­tus. Ana­lysts assumed each per­son would smoke or oth­er­wise “use” 3.53 ounces of mar­i­juana annu­ally, for a total of 2,268,985 ounces (about 142,000 pounds) per year. All of these num­bers may be under­es­ti­mated, because they’re based on data com­piled when recre­ational mar­i­juana was ille­gal. In fact, there are so many unknowns in the realm of legal non-medicinal pot that all of this math has a crude back-of-the-napkin qual­ity to it. In any event, using the study’s num­bers, the aver­age mar­i­juana enthu­si­ast can expect to pay a retail price of $185 per ounce next year. Mul­ti­ply that times 3.53 ounces—which no one can buy at once, mind you, because there’s a one-ounce pur­chase max­i­mum for residents—and the total comes to $653 annu­ally spent on pot. How much the indi­vid­ual actu­ally winds up spend­ing on mar­i­juana will depend on sev­eral fac­tors, most obvi­ously the qual­ity (and price) of the pot and how much one smokes. Researchers used the crowd­sourc­ing site Price​ofWeed​.com to get the $185-per-ounce fig­ure. As of early April, an ounce of mar­i­juana was aver­ag­ing $206 on the black mar­ket, and because the price is expected to drop once pot is legal, the study landed on $185. If the smoker is opt­ing for higher-quality, $300-per-ounce mar­i­juana, his annual pot bill would top $1,000. That’s for some­one smok­ing the aver­age of 3.53 ounces per year. A heavy smoker who goes with $300-per-ounce pot and uses, say, half-an-ounce monthly could expect to drop $1,800 annu­ally on his habit. That may sound like a lot. But a pot-smoking habit is prob­a­bly cheaper than a cigarette-smoking habit. Col­orado is one of the cheaper states for cig­a­rettes, but a pack still goes for around $5.19, accord­ing to one state-by-state price check com­pi­la­tion. So a one-pack-per-day habit—purchased one pack at a time, not by the carton—comes to $1,894 for a year. Health offi­cials say that once med­ical expenses and things like lost pro­duc­tiv­ity due to the effects of smok­ing are incor­po­rated, an addic­tion to cig­a­rettes is far more costly than that. For that mat­ter, plenty of argu­ments have been made that legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana will result in increased usage and addic­tion, as well as higher rates of dri­ving while stoned, so the costs to soci­ety out­weigh any ben­e­fits that arise from approv­ing the drug for recre­ational use. Oh, and about the point of the Col­orado State study, regard­ing tax rev­enues for the state? Researchers esti­mate that the 15% excise tax on whole­sale mar­i­juana would yield $21.7 mil­lion annu­ally, which is far short of the $40 mil­lion annual tar­get. To hit the tar­get, mar­i­juana would have to cost a lot more than the prices that have been esti­mated, or peo­ple in Col­orado would have to buy a lot more mar­i­juana than the fore­casts project. Nei­ther is likely to occur, the study states. “As com­pe­ti­tion forces grow­ers and sell­ers to be more effi­cient, mar­gins will erode and both whole­sale cost and retail prices are fore­cast to fall,” the report reads. And instead of usage ris­ing year after year, the study’s authors fore­see a “decline in the rate of growth of con­sump­tion as the ‘wow’ fac­tor erodes over­time and any mar­i­juana tourism begins to decline, par­tic­u­larly if other states fol­low Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton and legal­ize mar­i­juana.” Source: Time Mag­a­zine (US) Author: Brad Tut­tle Pub­lished: May 20, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Time Inc. Con­tact: letters@​time.​com Web­site: http://​www​.time​.com/​t​i​me/

 How Much Will a Legal Marijuana Habit Cost You?

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How Much Will a Legal Mar­i­juana Habit Cost You?

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