How expensive will legal marijuana be in Massachusetts when retail stores open?
For states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the new authorized markets have carried the promise of increasingly cheap weed. In Colorado, wholesale cannabis prices have dropped roughly 35 percent since their 2015 peak. In Oregon, some pot shops reportedly sell grams of weed for less than a glass of craft beer.
Massachusetts residents will likely have to wait awhile before they see anything similar.
State regulators say the initial market will be “sparse” when the first licensed retail pot shops open in July, due to both the cautious rollout process and widespread municipal bans on marijuana businesses. As a result, experts expect initial prices to be expensive — and stay that way for a while.
“I would expect that we would see really high prices to begin with,” Kris Krane, the co-founder of 4Front, a cannabis industry consultancy firm, told Boston.com. “There’s going to be a shortage.”
For an eighth of an ounce of weed, Krane said before-tax prices could start out around $60 to $70 — compared to an average of around $50 on the black market — and remain at that level for up to six months to a year. Of course, sales will also be subject to a combined tax by the state and local governments of up to 20 percent.
“It’s really simple supply and demand,” Krane said. “There’s not going to be enough supply.”
A similar dynamic has played out to some degree in every state that has gone through the process of implementing a legal retail or medical marijuana market. Because cannabis is (controversially) still an illegal Schedule 1 drug at the federal level, companies and individuals are prohibited from shipping it across state lines. That makes it difficult for each new state market — working in isolation from each other — to