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UK Cannabis Prices
There are at least ten varieties of cannabis for sale in the UK, at least some of the time, though there may be little or no choice locally. Users distinguish between these "brands" on grounds of potency, flavour, composition, and price, whenever a choice is available; however, choices are not always well informed, indicated here by the increasing use of "other/unknown" brands. Official statistics only distinguish between resin, herbal cannabis, and "hash oil", with some recent data on the cross-bred hybrids generically known as "skunk".
Cannabis for personal use is usually sold in "imperial" measurements of fractions of an ounce, e.g. 1/16oz, 1/8oz, with the unit price decreasing with larger amounts bought. Above 9oz (250 grams), cannabis is usually sold by metric weight.
The most common cannabis price reported was £15 for 1/8oz, for all varieties except for home grown and "skunk", and the most common ounce price was £90. "Eighths" can sell for anywhere between £4.50 and £40 (typically £13 to £15), and ounces typically from £75 to £130. Moroccan resin was cheapest, Asian resin and imported herbal cannabis (bush) a little dearer, and the hybrid herbal varieties such as "skunk" were most expensive. (Tables 2- 4).
Over two thirds (69%) of transactions or "deals" were in quantities of 1/4oz or less. We do not have evidence of 1/4oz prices being different from 1/8oz, but the jump from 1oz prices is clear. The 1/8th prices we asked for can be considered a "street price," the final purchase cost before consumption, whereas prices for larger amounts may be so, but not always.
Variations in prices by variety and by region, where they existed, were much more noticeable for larger purchases. This might be due to a smaller sample of people answering the questions on prices of larger amounts; For several varieties of cannabis there was insufficient data on the prices of larger amounts to break down regionally. (Supplementary Tables)
For every kind of cannabis resin the most common price given was £15 per 1/8oz, but the overall mean, "average" price was lower. Asian "Black" cost £14.97, on average, around £1 more than Moroccan "Soap" (£14.06), "Slate" (£13.99), or Lebanese (£14.14). Equivalent prices per gram were all around £4. Since most answers were given in multiples of £1 or £0.50, this indicates that more people gave lower prices than higher, compared to the mean. A mean price of £15.09 for "other/ unknown hash" included a few exotic, more expensive, varieties among many examples of the more common types. Future surveys will separate "other" from "unknown".
The distribution of prices quoted for 1oz and 9oz of resin was narrow, except for "other/ unknown" types. Ounce prices for Moroccan and Lebanese were around £85; for Asian "Black" and "Other/Unknown Hash" around £90 (except in Scotland, where all were over £90). 9oz prices were £600 -£650, except "other/ unknown".
Although the distribution of 1 kg prices was wider, in each case there was a small number of much lower prices, with the majority clustered around £2000, or £2/gram. The lower prices might represent regional differences in availability, larger or more regular dealers, or mistakes by some respondents such as entering 1 lb or 1/2kg prices.
For "other/unknown resin" the distribution of prices was wider for every quantity, with a few lower prices and a few considerably higher, probably exotic brands.
Imported Herbal Cannabis ("Bush")
Imported herbal cannabis was slightly more expensive than resin on average, though the distribution range of prices was greater within and between "brands", and in different regions of the UK. African bush was cheapest everywhere (UK mean price £14.60 per 1/8oz), Thai bush cost from £15.50 - £17.50 depending on region, and American/ Caribbean from £13 - £20 (UK means £16.06 and £16.61 respectively). Although the most common price quoted was £15, in each case substantial numbers of respondents gave higher figures. Equivalent prices per gram were £4 - £4.50.
"Other/Unknown Bush" had a national average price of £14.24 per 1/8 oz, reflecting more prices of under £15 quoted than in any specific category of bush. The distribution of prices was not notably wider than for specified brands. Some of this might have been good quality home grown; far more would be imported bush, the ultimate origin of which was mysterious or irrelevant to consumers.
Ounce prices for imported bush were similar to those of resin, though within a wider range, £80-£100. "Homegrown" was much cheaper. "Skunk" and other hybrids, which may be imported but are increasingly grown in the UK, were the most expensive.
Economics of the Cannabis Market
The near- uniformity of prices for small quantities of cannabis across the UK indicates either a very free market, responding flexibly to consumer pressure, or a national near- monopoly, either one recovering quickly from seizures or other losses, through a flexible supply and distribution network. The range of cannabis types, and seizure and conviction statistics, do not support the monopoly theory.
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