One of the biggest barriers for Australians looking to transition from the black market to safe, legal and well-regulated medicinal cannabis market has been the price of the finished item.  Specifically, the cost of dry flower as compared to “street pricing”.  Given that flower is the fastest growing segment of the medicinal cannabis market, this is what the article will focus on.  But first, let’s start with some exciting news…

This milestone cannot be overstated.  However, to truly understand the significance of the newly emerging price points, there are three lens to view the topic through:

  1. What is considered “affordable”
  2. Price vs Quality
  3. Why they have been high traditionally

What is “Affordable” Cannabis

“Affordable”, or “fair” pricing, is somewhat of a subjective term.  Where you live, what you make and how much you consume will be central to whether you deem a price reasonable or not.  Moreover, there is the obvious elephant in the room, being the subject matter is a plant that can grow almost anywhere on the planet.  For consistency, however, we will focus on purpose grown cannabis that is cured and sold for human consumption.  Generally speaking, medicinal cannabis patients will derive their perceptions of affordable pricing (and yes, this is also very subjective based on one’s location and “connections”).  Cannaus has provided an approximation of the average price of cannabis on the black market, per state, per ounce (28 grams):

  • Sydney:                $280-$320
  • Melbourne:         $270-$310
  • Brisbane:             $280-$300
  • Perth:                   $300-$350
  • Adelaide:             $200-$220
  • Hobart:                $250-$300
  • Darwin:                $325-$375

Please Note: these prices are on the conservative side, with many black market patients paying much higher (average $350) and well beyond for those seeking a specific, high-quality strain.  As such, anything under $400 per ounce is generally considered reasonable, particularly is the quality is considered high.

Price vs Quality

Before one can even attempt to address the quality of a particular strain/grow, there are a number of factors to consider.  What is the condition being treated, one’s individual endocannabinoid system, THC percentage, CBD percentage, bag appeal, microbiome count, not to mention the plethora of minor cannabinoids and terpen profiles.  A simpler way to explain it, horse for courses.  That said, while there are some truly gifted growers with access to beautiful cultivars on the black market (or so we have heard), the medicinal cannabis industry has proven itself over the recent years.  The ultra-diligent GMP standards required for local grows, along with the heavily monitored sustainability reports and Certificates of Analysis have ensure that patients receive exactly what is on the box.  So, it makes sense that the higher the quality, the higher the price, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Well, there is absolutely additional costs for legal growers, including top end equipment, ethically paid staff, licences and R&D, this is simply not a justification for prices above $600 per ounce.  The reality is that there is very little variance in the grow cost from one strain to another.  As such, an informed patient should take more interest in the cultivar and CoA than the price point when judging a strain.  For more on this topic, click here to watch a 420 seconds discussion of Price vs Quality of Australia Cannabis

Why They Have Been High Traditionally

It is easy to chalk up the traditionally high prices as “corporate greed” or “Big Pharma trying to suppress the growth of the industry”; and there may be a kernel of truth there somewhere.  However, in reality this is actually an unfair characteristic of the trailblazers that gave birth to the Australian medical industry.  With very few licences, a broadly uneducated medical industry (in relation to plant therapy) and frustratedly ignorant populous, economies-of-scale (the economic theory of prices reducing as production increases) were simply not able to be achieved.  As such, high price points became the ‘norm’ and were adopted by new licenced producers in the industry.  This certainly seems to be changing, however, with domestic start-ups entering the market with prices that rival, at time beating the black market.  Yes, it seems price parity is here and it is being driven by companies such as Grandiosa, Elevated Extracts, Tasmanian Botanics and Indimed all having price points that equate to under $400 per ounce (some even under $300 – see Canna Reviews for pricing).  Moreover, companies such as MedCan Australia offer Compassionate Pricing that is achievable for a large number of patients (watch here to learn more).

Take Away

Yes, this is a good news story.  No, the systems aren’t perfect and Medicare rebate, insurance and bulk billing for consultations are still driving up costs.  That said, with some extremely high quality strains being released at $299/30g (or $279/ounce), the legal, safe, regulated medicinal cannabis market is now very affordable, even with consultation fees included.  A HUGE win for Australian patients and the cannabis community in general.