How Much Will a Legal Marijuana Habit Cost You?

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

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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 revenue, 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 oz. (100 g) of marijuana annually, for a total of 2,268,985 oz. (about 64,320 kg) 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 nonmedicinal 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 oz. next year. Multiply that times 3.53 oz. — which no one can buy at once, mind you, because there’s a 1-oz. (28 g) purchase maximum for residents — and the total comes to $653 annually spent on pot.

(MORE: This Exists: Medical Marijuana for Pets)

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 of Weed to get the $185-per-oz. 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-oz. marijuana, his annual pot bill would top $1,000. That’s for someone smoking the average of 3.53 oz. per year. A heavy smoker who goes with $300-per-oz. 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 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.

(MORE: No One Has to Work as Little as an American to Afford Beer)

Oh, and about the point of the Colorado State study, regarding tax revenue 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 over time, and any marijuana tourism begins to decline, particularly if other states follow Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana.”

151 comments
CjMacintosh
CjMacintosh

I just buried one of my last childhood friends at the age of 54 , yes he had the flu And started coughing could not catch his breath and died in his tracks , at the hospital I ask his doctor was it flu or pot that killers him he said BOTH , so don't let anyone tell you that no one has ever died from POT ! And it states on the death certificate cause of death was respiratory failure from smoking (marijuana is all that he smoked ) and complications of the flu ! The price was pretty high for him !

WillD22
WillD22

A heavy user can smoke an ounce in two weeks easily. So it would be quite higher. 3 ounces per year is not much at all.

NathanWalker
NathanWalker

I'm hardly a mathamagician, but if the sales tax that is proposed of just 5% is applied to sales of $185 an ounce pot, and there is an estimated 2,268,985 ounces sold in a year, that would come to nearly $21 million alone in taxes.  $42 million if it's 10%. 

 I'm trying to figure out how they calculated that there would be $21 million in revenue from the 15% excise tax, and how they calculated a wholesale number for it in the first place.

PeeQue
PeeQue

Smoking cost me a heart attack. Price that by the day.

bashpr0mpt
bashpr0mpt

I wouldn't consider $94 relevant enough to say 'smoking weed is cheaper than cigarettes' because that is the only take away fact most people will see in this article. Especially given your weed smoking statistics are horribly under-exagerated given that most people with a habit smoke an oz a day at least to compare to a habit of a pack a day for smokers (with both being the higher scale of 'heavy smoker' for each drug) bringing the weed price to $67,525 a highly different price than the smokers $1,894!

It's pretty clear the article writer is new to this whole tabloidal stuff, you're meant to exagerate blindly whilst citing random pulled-out-your-ass statistics like the ones above. Now consider a 50% tax share or more (assuming they slowly go the way cigarettes did to the point they're nearly 400-500% taxation, in Australia where I live cigarettes imported for $2 a pack of 50 retail for $32 roughly, and $30 of that is taxation!) on $67,525 and tell me it's not profitable for them to tax marijuana! ;)

deskofmikewestbrook
deskofmikewestbrook

This is all guesswork, and the statistics for only smoking 3 oz/year is just ridiculous.  Whoever wrote this is obviously not a marijuana smoker, has no idea of the topic on which he/she is writing, and perhaps may want to consider refraining from trying to sound intelligent or educated on a topic that is OBVIOUSLY not in his/her realm of expertise.

techbizcs
techbizcs

Marijuana will never be legal federally and the legality of CO and WA will not last. There is no future in legal marijuana in the USA.

DominicBlais
DominicBlais

stoned drivers are not like drunk drivers oxford did a study and found marijuana users were more cautious and safer drivers if regular users ( occasional users did worse )

roninkai
roninkai

It is a weed. Everybody is going to have plants growing in their yards.

For FREE. 

Vapid article based on the idea you can sell anything at a profit.


RichyBocaz
RichyBocaz

The correct name is Marihuana or Mariguana not Marijuana.

gllahone84
gllahone84

As stated in the moonshine article, paying taxes on something like moonshine, but in this case marijuana takes away the credibility of the product somewhat. 

I know it may not make sense from a judicial standpoint, but for years buying marijuana was like a game of cat and mouse when it came to the authorities, and burning was simply a right of passage, or a big f you to the establishment. So as radical as one could be by smoking, that's what our intentions were by partaking in the act. But I am all for legalization, and can not wait until the day when all states follow suit. 

rutnerh
rutnerh

Business opp for tobacco plantation owners or other growers, process in bonded facilities similar to tobacco, fed and state tax it at tobacco rates and sell alongside tobacco products with similar age restrictions for medicinal and rec uses...at cost lower than cigs, as low as as 10 cents per fix. No need to buy it from pusher and in the process sav e multi billions

paco89146
paco89146

http://InSaintGeorgeUT.com:

Cost’s never been an issue, right? From the traditional "La Cucaracha", the theme song of the Mexican revolution which contains the memorable lyric, "No tiene Marijuana que fumar" (“doesn’t have any marijuana to smoke”) to DYLAN’s -- "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (1966) the song's chorus, "Everybody must get stoned," makes you forget about any cost considerations and those rainy day women, whatever numbers they're high on.

Doubtom
Doubtom

The answer to that question is simple---it will always cost more than it should.

CarolynMarisa
CarolynMarisa

Marijuana is NOT habit-forming - NOT an addictive drug.  Enthusiasts simply like to indulge from time to time.  It should have been legalized 40 years ago.....I can say that and am NOT a user.

RobinDonaldDeVallon
RobinDonaldDeVallon

´Not interesting !! ´Just spend your allowance and stay stupid... Donah..//

daddah7
daddah7

I think you forgot to include the TOURISTS that will be vacationing every chance they get in Colorado... They may also smoke more than your average pot smoker, as they are traveling to experience what they have been dreaming about for years.

Sharpen your pencils...

KGelner
KGelner

I saw a sale sign in a Glenwood Springs (a few hours west of Denver) "Pharmacy" recently for $110//oz.  Given how easy pot is to grow I don't see how the price is going to stay anywhere near $185/oz once it's considered a legal substance.

EdwardKeller
EdwardKeller

So, if he choked on a pot brownie, the cause of death is POT???? Don't be naive! Pot didn't kill him. He lost his breath, he suffocated. The flu, which already made it hard for him to breath, couple with the fact that he was trying to smoke, caused this suffocation. NOT pot, he could have been trying to smoke anything. The effects of POT did not kill this man. Smoking while suffer from the flu, or flu like symptom, unfortunately, lead to this man's death. SMOKING!!!! Not Pot! Would have happened if he inhaled any product,... Tobacco, Cannabis, Salvia, or a damn banana peel. Further, more, inhalants like endust, or paints, would have also also caused this, as he took in a deep breath and failed to regain his composure and take another. So, again, don't be naive, POT didn't cause this death. Inhaling things when he was already have trouble breathing killed him and the Doctor should have been more clear on the act of inhaling anything being his demise and not POT!

DanielColeman
DanielColeman

@PeeQueJust as Tylenol isn't for everyone, neither is marijuana. Where I know one individual who has seizures after smoking, I've never had a seizure in ten years of heavy use.

drmark
drmark

@PeeQuehi the you do need cannabis oil, i do have that for sale i i am a supplier of cannabis oil i do supplier and deliver world wide, so if interested do email me for more information drmark758@gmail.com wiating to read from you soon

JamesHale
JamesHale

@bashpr0mpt I have to question your expertise in this arena. Any actual pot smoker knows an ounce is a CRAPLOAD of pot--dried plants don't weigh very much. It would take a smoker of Snoop Dog's caliber to smoke an ounce in 1 day--and most recreational users don't chain smoke pot (at least the 60 or 70 smokers I know). If the pot is even halfway decent the highs last for hours. There are too many variables to account for such as bowl size, quality, tolerance, etc. but when smoking 2 bowls a night  a quarter ounce of pot lasts close to 2 weeks. Don't take my word for it--there are forums full of pot smokers everywhere--example: http://www.rollitup.org/toke-n-talk/82163-how-long-does-ounce-last.html

Awyseguy
Awyseguy

@techbizcs give me a good reason why it won't. I've been doing research on cannabis for over 10 years and have yet found a reason for it to even be illegal in the first place aside from historical issues and conspiracy issues. So please tell me more.

realparent
realparent

@DominicBlais  Incorrect. Cannabis is second only to alcohol for causing impaired driving and motor vehicle accidents

JamesHale
JamesHale

@roninkai It's legal to grow tobacco and make your own beer but you don't see many folks going to the trouble do you?

techbizcs
techbizcs

@roninkai Not very likely. Even if a state is legal one cannot grow outdoors, at least visible to the public. And most cities would ban growing outdoors due to smell and access. It would be forced indoors and indoor marijuana growing is anything but free. You can dream though.

realparent
realparent

@roninkai The pro-pot lobby likes to claim there will be tax benefits. in fact, it's the dominant rationale for their argument, so that is the reason for the article.  It's just another part of their slightly stoned story, along with "It's just a weed, we need it for cancer patients, it's not as bad as booze, and it's not addictive." I hope people start using their brains  - or what's left of them.

hamilton
hamilton

@RichyBocaz The correct name is Cannabis.  All of those are slang and need to be discarded.

realparent
realparent

@CarolynMarisa @CarolynMarisa  Why don't you tell all those people on Marijuana Anonymous that it's not addictive? Tell their families, too. The idea that you can say it is not addictive as a non-user is as absurd as most of these arguments.

techbizcs
techbizcs

@KGelner First off, there is no legal or illegal weed being sold anywhere for 110 an oz, I doubt dirtweed would be that cheap anywhere. Secondly, pot is not easy to grow. One needs to be a greenthumb and not everyone can do that, and marijuana has a higher difficulty to grow than most plants. Thirdly, it will never be legal federally therefore CO and WA laws will not survive. Average street price of an oz of top quality marijuana nationally is 350+, it's 450 in some regions. Med is not that much cheaper and when rec comes around the massive amount of fees, taxes and regulations will make legal prices skyrocket. Everyone thinks they are an economist, everyone is not.

steve2
steve2

@JamesHale I've been smoking weed since 1968. Though I may have a slightly higher tolerance than most people, there is no way in the world that I could smoke an ounce of high grade bud in a day. The smoking habits of people like Bob Marley, Snoop Dog and Willie Nelson have become subjects for stoner mythology.  I have a feeling that exceeding an ounce of top quality smoke within a 24-hour period is a rare occurrence, even for those guys.

JamesHale
JamesHale

@realparent @CarolynMarisa You cannot become physically dependent on pot, psychological dependence is another story.  Physical addiction can be easily gauged by the "withdrawal" one can be expected to go through when quitting cold turkey. Check out the withdrawal symptoms of Marinol (synthetic THC):  "This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as irritability, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hot flashes, and diarrhea) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. " (under the "Uses" Tab) http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-9308-Marinol+Oral.aspx?drugid=9308&drugname=Marinol+Oral&source=1 

TylerWood
TylerWood

@realparent @CarolynMarisa What does it matter if it's habit forming? Absolutely anything that can be enjoyed for one reason or another could become a habit or addiction. Tobacco, alcohol or even fatty foods. Are we going to take these away because some people have a habitual personality? NO! We're human beings, and can make our own decisions. Keeping it illegal only worsens the amount of problems that everyday people will have to face if they decide they want to enjoy smoking a plant.


isaiah.h
isaiah.h

@techbizcs @KGelner ya I'm down here in BC and you can get the best indoor for 140 an oz and can buy dirt weed(still bud) for like 30 bucks. Here you pay any where from 20-180 for an oz

JamesHale
JamesHale

@techbizcs People would realize this if they weren't just talking out of their as ses.

Drooski
Drooski

@JamesHale @realparent @DominicBlais I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that the amount they had smoked was more than a rec user would use in a full weekend. They had just under a gram. Thats enough for 2 decent joints, not really a lot.

JamesHale
JamesHale

People don't quit because they don't want to...and if they're responsible in their usage why would they want to? It makes EVERYTHING more enjoyable and is effective in taking your mind off the everyday stress a lot of folks endure. Quitting it would be a lot like quitting electronics in general--doable and better for your waistline, but life would definitely be more droll.