Dec 062011
 December 6, 2011

Marijuana MoneyThe street value of marijuana is a funny thing. In one newspaper you will hear a ghastly number for marijuana’s street value, and later that day on the TV news you will hear a completely different number for the street value of marijuana. Every time I hear or see something involving marijuana, my eyes/ears are always glued to the source of the information, and then I whip out the calculator.

I always wanted to know how street value was determined, and I just found out recently how my home state of Oregon does it. I’m not talking about what it actually costs for marijuana. For a GREAT article on that, check out the comments section at the bottom of Ninjasmoker’s ‘How Much Should I Be Paying For My Weed?’ article and feel free to leave your own comment. I’m talking about what do cops think marijuana goes for at the street level.

As of the writing of this article, when a person Googles the term ‘how do cops determine the street value of marijuana’ an article from 2008 pops up as the number one return. It was authored by Lindy Stevens for The Michigan Daily News. Here are some brief excerpts from the article; if you want to read the full article I’ve linked to it in this paragraph:

“The United States Drug Enforcement Agency puts a $1,000 price tag on one pound of marijuana, but according to Michigan state police Lt. Garth Burnside, who heads the Narcotics Enforcement Team in Washtenaw County, this figure doesn’t account for the range of qualities – or prices – in the marijuana market.

To determine an approximate street value of drugs, the DEA keeps a record of drug busts that occur throughout the country. Published in a report known as “Trends in Trafficking,” the DEA takes into account the price, quantity and quality of drugs confiscated in the busts.

A University student who wished to remain anonymous said he regularly travels to Detroit to buy marijuana because it’s cheaper there.

‘I would pay 50 or 60 bucks for an eighth (of an ounce) of Chronic in Ann Arbor, but I could get a full ounce of the same stuff for 80 to 100 bucks in Detroit.’

The self-described ‘marijuana enthusiast’ said the DEA’s estimate of $1,000 seemed reasonable, but that $1,500 was more realistic. He said he thinks that police intentionally place a lower value on a drug to make others who dabble in the market question the higher prices they might be paying to dealers.”

I don’t know about the ‘marijuana enthusiast’ conspiracy theory (I’ll save that for another article), but the Michigan State Police explanation makes no sense. If the DEA ‘keeps a record of drug busts that occur throughout the country’ then why did the Michigan police throw out the price of $1,000 per pound? I tried digging for the ‘Trends in Trafficking’ report online but I can’t find the part where it explains marijuana street value…If someone else out there can dig it up please share in the comments below.

An article from 2007 authored in the Marin Independent Journal states:

“Prices vary accordingly. Sgt. Rudy Yamanoha of the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force said low-grade marijuana sells for about $340 a pound, mid-grade for $750 a pound, and high-grade for $2,500 to $6,000 per pound.”

This quote made me laugh. I would love to see pictures of what’s ‘mid grade’ according to officer Yamanoha. I would also love to see what this $6,000 dollar pound looks like. Either it comes with a couple of gold necklaces, or that number is a bit of a stretch. I don’t know about other areas, but in 2007 I had never, ever heard of someone paying that much for even the best of the best on the West Coast. Maybe on the East Coast? I’ll leave that to the comment section.

I recently had the privilege of playing open gym basketball with a retired Oregon State Trooper that wishes to just be referred to as Mike; take it for what you will. We were talking about what I do for work and what he did for work in between games, and he said he was a K-9 officer. Naturally I felt a little paranoid and a little curious, kind of like when you see a shark near your boat I suppose. After a few games we talked a bit more and I got the nerve to ask him what he thought of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. To my surprise, he said he wishes it would just be legal already. He felt that there’s much bigger problems to go after, such as meth, and that going after marijuana is just a waste of resources.

It took a minute or two to let his response settle in because I’ve played basketball with a handful of current and retired members of law enforcement before, and they are not as kind. I don’t know if retirement made this guy feel he could speak his mind, or something else, but he was certainly a breathe of fresh air. After a bit more conversation, I asked him how marijuana street value is determined, and why it was so off in news reports. He explained a process that was like the DEA database that mysteriously can’t be found, but that it’s just at a State level.

Cops send in informants to controlled purchases and whatever it costs per gram, that number goes in the records so whoever is handling the law enforcement communications to the media can give an estimate. He explained that cops just put the number out there, and they don’t care if it’s accurate, it’s just an estimation so that the public can get an idea of how much product was taken off the streets. They only get their numbers from the DEA if the DEA leads the operation, which he said rarely occurs. Most of the time he said marijuana busts occur during routine traffic stops, which is an FYI to all you smokin’ drivers out there pushin’ bags!

However street value prices for marijuana are calculated by the cops, one thing is for sure in my area (Oregon), street value prices are going down. To me this gives credibility to what retired Mike was talking about. I remember in the late 90′s, when the underground marijuana scene on the West Coast was a lot different than it is now, high grade marijuana was always listed in the news at 50 dollars an eighth all the way up until it got to pounds. In the days before Google, I would always see on the news and in the newspaper busts where the accused had a ’400 dollar’ ounce one them.

Ninjasmoker and I would always laugh at those inflated prices. But times are changing! Just today, if you Google the term ‘oregon marijuana’ there’s an article about a lady getting busted with five pounds in Oregon, street value $12,500, which is pretty close for top grade indoor in this state! I put the picture below so readers can see what I’d say more like $12,000 will get you in Oregon, assuming it’s good indoor (Gotta love that classic Oregon packaging). I will let readers debate that though below in the comments…

oregon marijuana

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • joe

    Thanks for the excerpts from an already printed article that someone else wrote, and the anecdote about your basketball companions. Great news. Now we clearly understand how street value is determined.

  • Dustin

    Yeah this is pretty sad..write your own articles.

  • Skdb

    Can’t you guys do simple math? You haven’t seen 6000 dollar a pound weed?
    50 dollars an eigth is 400 dollars per ounce, 400 dollars per ounce is 6400 dollars per pound. Granted if you buy more you get a discount, but any time you buy some weed at 50 an eigth, you just paid 6400 per pound

  • Denacara

    Why are the prices lower on the west coast? I know someone in California who always had high grade indoor weed. Is the lower west prices because there is much more supply? Â

    I am guessing higher east coast prices result from it being transported farther to the east coast.  Is that the reason why Washington, Oregaon, California and Nevada are cheaper?