If Growers are Getting Less Per Pound, Why are Customers Paying the Same?

Here in the heart of the Emerald Triangle,  locals are worried about pot.  Not about whether marijuana is bad for you but about the price of marijuana.  Many people around here depend on cannabis growing either directly (as farmers and trimmers) or indirectly (as local business people) so the price of pot is as important to the local economy as the sales of wine are to Napa Valley.

NPR is doing a story today on our community’s concerns about the “plummeting price of pot.”  Growers’ concerns are being treated seriously (at least by the media–if not by the people who comment) and it stars our very own radio host, Charlie Custer as well as cameo appearances by other locals.

Living here in Humboldt writing about weed,  I’d say the NPR story is close to correct as far as I can tell.  Prices for outdoor circle around $2000.  OG Kush can go for up to $2400.  Strains with less aroma and panache can go down to $1800.  Of course, anyone moving quantity will get less.  Outdoor prices are slightly less than what they were last year.  Buyers seem a little more picky–which is good for the consumer.

Indoor prices dropped more seriously this last year.  And indoor growers seem more frustrated about finding buyers. I attribute this to dispensaries growing their own now and not buying from independent growers.I’ll have to do some research on prices but last I heard indoor was down about $300-$500 from last year.

From reading marijuana chat rooms I’ve gotten the impression that good weed is difficult to buy in other areas of the country.  However, here we are flooded–with new growers and with established growers producing more and more product. Some growers have told me that they have doubled and tripled the size of their patches. This has resulted in lower prices to the farmers.

The subsequent price drops haven’t reached the consumer though. The admittedly unscientific samplings at High Times have April 2009’s prices to the consumers at $375 and this April’s prices at $374 per ounce. Other people have told me that prices at dispensaries are roughly the same as last year.

Why are the quality growers of Humboldt seeing lower prices but the consumer isn’t seeing the benefit? According to Lyle Buettner who describes himself as a grower in a comment on NPR’s story says,

In the world of the black market one needs reliable people for distribution. If you live in the middle of nowhere and talk to nobody it doesn’t matter how much pot you got.

There is a need for a better distribution system. Local growers need to form collectives that can go directly to dispensaries. The growers will benefit from higher sales and prices.  The consumers will benefit in form of lower prices and better selection. Sadly, pot from the Emerald Triangle has a hard time reaching consumers even here on the west coast. A writer for a well-known marijuana blog complained about outdoor weed saying that it wasn’t usually good quality in his area but then stated to me,

I have heard from many Northern Californians that they prefer outdoor to indoor. People up here in Oregon would LOVE some quality outdoor, but it just seems too hard to find by the time you get up here. Many of my friends have contemplated just driving down there in October and hanging out at bars to meet some Californians looking to meet Oregonians…but we never know what to expect when we get there.

Maybe Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel’s meeting on the 18th in Garberville will start growers forming their own collectives.  I hope so– both consumers and growers will benefit.

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39 comments

  • This is a great write-up, Kym. Everything’s so complicated but obvious. Will we be better off when pot becomes normal and boring? Will it ever? I hope so, because there’s no going back .

  • This is a great write-up, Kym. Everything’s so complicated but obvious. Will we be better off when pot becomes normal and boring? Will it ever? I hope so, because there’s no going back .

  • I like that growers’ concerns are being written about seriously by NPR but I worry, after reading the comments, that people’s perceptions of growers are so twisted from reality that no matter how much good reporting comes out, growers are always going to look like rich people fussing because they have to pay an extra $10 in taxes. Instead, they are often people barely eking out a living–especially the trimmers.

  • I like that growers’ concerns are being written about seriously by NPR but I worry, after reading the comments, that people’s perceptions of growers are so twisted from reality that no matter how much good reporting comes out, growers are always going to look like rich people fussing because they have to pay an extra $10 in taxes. Instead, they are often people barely eking out a living–especially the trimmers.

  • Kym i agree,

    every time i read one of these stories about growers, the public comments are just so far from the truth it seems!!!

    I dont know what is gonna happen with the legalization bill in CA this november, part of me hopes it does not pass, and the other half of me realizes how pointless it is to continue prosecuting peiple over a plant…

    • Nothing in that November bill about not sending people to jail. Over an ounce is still a felony and nothing really changes. The bill is BS.

      About the price to consumers not dropping. It’s a buyers market..err..wholesale buyers market both in state and out. Wholesale prices will continue to drop, for all the reasons explained in this article, and many new growers without the skills and old growers who aren’t adapting will go under.

      Kym- always enjoy your writing and about the guy wanting to come down from Oregon…Do I smell bacon?

      • J,
        I disagree about the bill being BS. I listened recently to Omar Figuaroa, an attorney working with Tony Serra’s office and a designer of his own legalize cannabis bill, he said that the bill isn’t perfect but it is a first baby step that is needed. He would have preferred another, too.

        Growers will still go to jail under this law (which provides price supports for those of you worried–ugly as that idea is.) But consumers won’t. It also doesn’t change the medical laws so those growing under that provision don’t need to change.

        Honestly J, the guy from Oregon, Johnny Green, the writer of the blog who made the comment, seems legit to me but honestly after reading about what t the California Corrections office just pulled I wouldn’t put anything past the government.

        (ps thanks for the kind words.)

  • Kym i agree,

    every time i read one of these stories about growers, the public comments are just so far from the truth it seems!!!

    I dont know what is gonna happen with the legalization bill in CA this november, part of me hopes it does not pass, and the other half of me realizes how pointless it is to continue prosecuting peiple over a plant…

    • Nothing in that November bill about not sending people to jail. Over an ounce is still a felony and nothing really changes. The bill is BS.

      About the price to consumers not dropping. It’s a buyers market..err..wholesale buyers market both in state and out. Wholesale prices will continue to drop, for all the reasons explained in this article, and many new growers without the skills and old growers who aren’t adapting will go under.

      Kym- always enjoy your writing and about the guy wanting to come down from Oregon…Do I smell bacon?

      • J,
        I disagree about the bill being BS. I listened recently to Omar Figuaroa, an attorney working with Tony Serra’s office and a designer of his own legalize cannabis bill, he said that the bill isn’t perfect but it is a first baby step that is needed. He would have preferred another, too.

        Growers will still go to jail under this law (which provides price supports for those of you worried–ugly as that idea is.) But consumers won’t. It also doesn’t change the medical laws so those growing under that provision don’t need to change.

        Honestly J, the guy from Oregon, Johnny Green, the writer of the blog who made the comment, seems legit to me but honestly after reading about what t the California Corrections office just pulled I wouldn’t put anything past the government.

        (ps thanks for the kind words.)

  • The price in dispensaries reflects the fact that there is now a retail structure in the middle. The farmer wholesales, and the dispensary is paying rent, salaries, utilities, insurance, workers compensation, and taxes. So there is a markup over the wholesale that is not pure profit. Another thing to consider about dispensary prices is many are growing their own indoor. The huge electric bills add to that overhead.

    Yes, collectives are the first step forward, but there are challenges beyond that. The majority of dispensaries do not want to deal in outdoor. I’ve been talking to many of them doing research for a documentary, and they have branded indoor as the most medically preferable, as well as the most powerfully intoxicating. (The latter may be true but I have found no research to prove the former as yet.) I spoke to a dispensary owner in Long Beach, who refused to state it on the record, but he only wants indoor. (The chutzpah was he was in Humboldt to raise money for opposition to the TC2010 initiative, which is why he wouldn’t go on record.)

    I ate lunch in the Town Square Friday and the conversations around me were all about the dismal prices. (I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help overhearing!) One woman was telling her companion that dispensaries in LA offered her $1000 a pound and said that was the best offer she found. She complained that Bakersfield and other areas are awash in outdoor scenes and the market is flooded.

    A number of dispensaries who do buy outdoor for these dismal prices use it for promotion–free spliff for first time patients! Free gram when you register as a patient! I find that ironic, since they use it as a promotion to come back and buy their indoor.

    Forming collectives is a first step, but forming new outlets is the next, and Humboldt is once more behind the curve. Dispensaries in the urban areas have been promoting indoor for a number of years now and have created a strong market for themselves. Outdoor organic collectives are going to have to challenge vertically integrated companies that grow and retail their own product.

  • The price in dispensaries reflects the fact that there is now a retail structure in the middle. The farmer wholesales, and the dispensary is paying rent, salaries, utilities, insurance, workers compensation, and taxes. So there is a markup over the wholesale that is not pure profit. Another thing to consider about dispensary prices is many are growing their own indoor. The huge electric bills add to that overhead.

    Yes, collectives are the first step forward, but there are challenges beyond that. The majority of dispensaries do not want to deal in outdoor. I’ve been talking to many of them doing research for a documentary, and they have branded indoor as the most medically preferable, as well as the most powerfully intoxicating. (The latter may be true but I have found no research to prove the former as yet.) I spoke to a dispensary owner in Long Beach, who refused to state it on the record, but he only wants indoor. (The chutzpah was he was in Humboldt to raise money for opposition to the TC2010 initiative, which is why he wouldn’t go on record.)

    I ate lunch in the Town Square Friday and the conversations around me were all about the dismal prices. (I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, I couldn’t help overhearing!) One woman was telling her companion that dispensaries in LA offered her $1000 a pound and said that was the best offer she found. She complained that Bakersfield and other areas are awash in outdoor scenes and the market is flooded.

    A number of dispensaries who do buy outdoor for these dismal prices use it for promotion–free spliff for first time patients! Free gram when you register as a patient! I find that ironic, since they use it as a promotion to come back and buy their indoor.

    Forming collectives is a first step, but forming new outlets is the next, and Humboldt is once more behind the curve. Dispensaries in the urban areas have been promoting indoor for a number of years now and have created a strong market for themselves. Outdoor organic collectives are going to have to challenge vertically integrated companies that grow and retail their own product.

  • is there no SOHUMBORN sunday today?

  • is there no SOHUMBORN sunday today?

  • “Marijuana To Control Alcohol Abuse
    A new research effort has a provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.

    Research published in BioMed Central’s open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40 percent used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more potent illegal drugs.

    Amanda Reiman carried out the study at the UC-Berkeley Patient’s Group, a medical cannabis dispensary.

    She said, “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles – people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”

    Reiman found that 65 percent of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has fewer adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has less withdrawal potential and 57.4 percent because cannabis provides better symptom management. A new research effort has a provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.”
    Marijuana was indispensible in my breaking a several year long cocaine habit in the mid ’80’s. I am delighted that using pot to break worse drug habits is getting some attention!

    .

  • “Marijuana To Control Alcohol Abuse
    A new research effort has a provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.

    Research published in BioMed Central’s open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40 percent used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more potent illegal drugs.

    Amanda Reiman carried out the study at the UC-Berkeley Patient’s Group, a medical cannabis dispensary.

    She said, “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles – people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”

    Reiman found that 65 percent of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has fewer adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has less withdrawal potential and 57.4 percent because cannabis provides better symptom management. A new research effort has a provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.”
    Marijuana was indispensible in my breaking a several year long cocaine habit in the mid ’80’s. I am delighted that using pot to break worse drug habits is getting some attention!

    .

  • Fiance here: Outdoor = +
    Indoor = –

  • Fiance here: Outdoor = +
    Indoor = –

  • I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that the dispensaries are not the growers’ friends. Liz, the “chutzpah” of the owner asking for money to defeat Tax Cannabis but not wanting to support outdoor growers is one of the reasons I’m pro legalization (not the most important one though).

    Dispensaries seem more like corporations–worried less about their customers and the morality of their stances and more concerned with the bottom line. It is in their financial interests to grow indoor, market indoor, and sell indoor. Damn the environment, damn the customers’ needs, and damn what is the better product.

    (Of course, there are dispensaries that this isn’t true of but as a whole I’m beginning to feel frustrated.)

    • You’re absolutely right. The sad thing is the law allows collectives, but they are adopting not just a corporate structure (there are good reasons for legally incorporating), but a corporate attitude.

      Our job is to change it. Or at least, to create an alternative.

  • I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that the dispensaries are not the growers’ friends. Liz, the “chutzpah” of the owner asking for money to defeat Tax Cannabis but not wanting to support outdoor growers is one of the reasons I’m pro legalization (not the most important one though).

    Dispensaries seem more like corporations–worried less about their customers and the morality of their stances and more concerned with the bottom line. It is in their financial interests to grow indoor, market indoor, and sell indoor. Damn the environment, damn the customers’ needs, and damn what is the better product.

    (Of course, there are dispensaries that this isn’t true of but as a whole I’m beginning to feel frustrated.)

    • You’re absolutely right. The sad thing is the law allows collectives, but they are adopting not just a corporate structure (there are good reasons for legally incorporating), but a corporate attitude.

      Our job is to change it. Or at least, to create an alternative.

  • Contrary to the fears of most growers, I believe that the demand is only building around the country. The price may actually rise if any legalization attempt is realized. There is simply no way that a small number of growers/companies/collectives could supply the millions of pot smokers across the USA or even California for at least 5 years. Pot is more popular than ever and the demand is increasing, not decreasing.

    Add in the fact that VERY few people can produce high quality bud and even fewer can produce it in high quanities. The best bud will always be grown by people who do it out of love for the herb, not some giant corporation. Sure, lots of consumers will buy low to mid grade herb if given the chance, but that market already exists today. Also, local growers need to be honest with themselves when grading their herb. Not all pot is high grade and deserves top dollar.

    Bottom line: Don’t freak out people!!! The price for really good herb will stay steady or increase.

  • Contrary to the fears of most growers, I believe that the demand is only building around the country. The price may actually rise if any legalization attempt is realized. There is simply no way that a small number of growers/companies/collectives could supply the millions of pot smokers across the USA or even California for at least 5 years. Pot is more popular than ever and the demand is increasing, not decreasing.

    Add in the fact that VERY few people can produce high quality bud and even fewer can produce it in high quanities. The best bud will always be grown by people who do it out of love for the herb, not some giant corporation. Sure, lots of consumers will buy low to mid grade herb if given the chance, but that market already exists today. Also, local growers need to be honest with themselves when grading their herb. Not all pot is high grade and deserves top dollar.

    Bottom line: Don’t freak out people!!! The price for really good herb will stay steady or increase.

  • kim your prices are way off only old folks with no connections get that low of pries, everyone else in the county is still getting 2,500 – 3,000 a lb for outdoor and 3,200 – 4,000 for indoor. Any talk of prices being as low as you put it is just brokers driving the price down with growers who have too much weed and not enough friends. i laugh at any idiot who would actualy sell that low unless its total swag they are morons and can only blame themselves for not knowing anyone better.

  • kim your prices are way off only old folks with no connections get that low of pries, everyone else in the county is still getting 2,500 – 3,000 a lb for outdoor and 3,200 – 4,000 for indoor. Any talk of prices being as low as you put it is just brokers driving the price down with growers who have too much weed and not enough friends. i laugh at any idiot who would actualy sell that low unless its total swag they are morons and can only blame themselves for not knowing anyone better.

  • Where could swim get these $1800 no panache outdoor tweeds?

  • Where could swim get these $1800 no panache outdoor tweeds?

  • that’s a beautiful bud, no question about it.

  • that’s a beautiful bud, no question about it.

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