16 comments on “Fully legal joints would be perhaps 50 cents per pack of 20

  1. This argument’s not wholly wrong, but the whole concept of ‘a joint’ is a bit like the concept of ‘an alcoholic drink’: could be beer, could be fine wine, could be strong spirits, could be cheap cider. There’s a big difference in production cost between bush weed and carefully grown hydroponic skunk, and of course a whole spectrum in between.

    I’m fairly sure that the prices for top-notch stuff could come down significantly with full legality, open-ness and competition, but maybe by a quarter or a half at most – it’d still be orders of magnitude more expensive than the cheapest bush weed.

    The Strain Hunters documentaries are mostly more interesting than laughable, although it can be quite a close-run thing thanks to the comedy Dutsh akshents. Here’s the one where they went to Malawi:

    http://youtu.be/89RH475eZYc

    What the series tends to show is how much of the cost of growing good weed is labour, and also that there’s a choice to be made between quality and cost. If anything, we’re more likely to see weed quality increase whilst prices stay relatively high.

  2. Would be more home grown and more promotion of the good stuff compared to budget. Markets for each – a business meeting would not offer the cheap & nasty stuff would it?

  3. They will tax the living crap out of any legalised drug. So more like 50 dollars a pack I expect.

    They need the cash because of their fiscal incontinence.

  4. There is also the “grow your own” and hobby grower factor. Once weed becomes legal growing your own will be even bigger business than it already is, and one hobby grower can grow A LOT.
    That is going to have a large effect on what a large enterprise can get away with charging.
    It will be a wild roller coaster…..

  5. I suspect that “hobby growing” would precipitously decline in the event of full legalization. How many people grow tobacco for fun?

  6. There is also the presumption a pack of 20 spliffs would contain 1g weed per. As the MoI might say, this is icepick in the forehead territory, if it’s anywhere near decent product. The most likely eventuality would be the primo bulked out with a neutral smoke-able material, so any Marlboro Country style adverts didn’t have the horse lying on its back with its legs in the air thanx to passive smoking.

  7. One of my brothers did a long haul coach tour down through Africa and tells the story of pulling up somewhere around Malawi. One of the locals popped up and traded a soap-bar-sized lump of the finest quality weed he’d ever smoked for a couple of large empty tin cans. They couldn’t believe that he’d trade such fine dope for rubbish, and the local couldn’t believe that these stupid foreigners would trade something as useful as the tins for a lump of something that grows like a weed, everywhere.

  8. Dear Mr Worstall

    Tobacco leaf can be bought retail for £15 inc VAT for 17.6 oz, or less than £1 per ounce, equivalent to 3p per pathetic little foreign unit (http://www.tobaccoleaf4u.com/), suggesting that 3 cents wholesale is easily achievable.

    @So Much for Subtlety March 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    If those awfully nice people in the US dept of taxing* want to raise revenue to help out the US dept of fiscal incontinence, they won’t tax it at anything like the rate to take the retail price to $50 per pack. Assuming they know how economics works, of course.

    DP

    * Otherwise known as legalised robbery.

  9. “Malawi Gold”, not so much a memory of my youth but the complete inability to account for two days of my youth..

  10. Flatcap Army>

    I suspect the story’s mildly exaggerated, if you watch the video I posted above. Or at least, prices have gone up a bit since.

    The stuff does indeed grow like a weed, but the good stuff requires at least some labour to produce. The stuff that grows everywhere isn’t terrible, but it’s not the kind of thing you’d rave about as the finest quality you ever smoked. Put a bit of care into growing it, though, and it’s shome sherioushly nishe organic shit, as the Strainhunters would say.

  11. So… if the price falls, consumption is pretty much guaranteed to rise, right?

    So the result of a truly free market would be more people smoking cannabis?

    So if we want to avoid a (probably large) increase in the number of people smoking cannabis (or preferably reduce it, but if that’s not possible at least keep it at present levels) we should keep the market as unfree as it currently is, correct?

  12. DP – “If those awfully nice people in the US dept of taxing* want to raise revenue to help out the US dept of fiscal incontinence, they won’t tax it at anything like the rate to take the retail price to $50 per pack. Assuming they know how economics works, of course.”

    Assuming. Of course. Do they? Half of all cigarettes in New York are not illegally smuggled I am told. Not paying any tax at all. There is a whole world of illegal tobacco out there I was not that surprised to learn. Ever since the Revenue men tried to prevent smuggling brandy, it has been well known that low taxes prevent smuggling. High taxes cause it. Tobacco is clearly taxed too heavily.

    N – “So if we want to avoid a (probably large) increase in the number of people smoking cannabis”

    If.

  13. If

    Economics can only tell us how to achieve a given objective. It can’t tell us what objectives we ought to pursue.

    So indeed, if we wish to avoid an increase in the number of people smoking cannabis economics tells us how to do that: keep it illegal.

  14. My maturation occurred at the origins of the drug culture, in the late 1960s. I can tell you that the spread of drug use was incented by the artificially high cost of drugs. Pushing drugs was to make money, sometimes to support one’s own habit. I believe that if you take the money out of it – by getting government out of it – use will plummet, as incentives evaporate.

    For those who believe that weed prices will remain high if legal, because of the care required, have never grown tomatoes. Or asparagus.

  15. My maturation occurred at the origins of the drug culture, in the late 1960s. I can tell you that the spread of drug use was incented by the artificially high cost of drugs

    I don’t understand — you’re saying that it was the artificially high price that created the demand? So cannabis is a Vablen good?

    I thought people just took it because they enjoyed it. Is that not the case?

  16. Does indeed grow like a weed in right conditions . one of my weekly tasks as a school prefect (early 70s, Nairobi) was to tour the school grounds and grub up any (self seeded) marijuana plants – which we took back to a central spot for a widely attended and fondly remembered bonfire….

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