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Are Marijuana Dispensaries Overcharging Patients

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As the Measure 74 campaign here in Oregon was going on (dispensary initiative), I began to notice an alarming trend. Marijuana dispensaries, in my opinion, exist for patients to have better access to medicine. However, the trend that I have noticed is that dispensaries are charging A LOT of money for medical marijuana, way more than I have ever heard anyone charging on the black market.

In a story that I posted earlier in the year, a dispensary owner posted a comment defending his high prices. He said, “we have meds from 20 an eighth to 60 an eighth…” In another story that I wrote, Johnny1 was lamenting the 75 dollar an eighth price that he sees in Southern California. The standard on the West Coast streets is 40 bucks an eighth (even for the supers), and considering that dispensaries are supposed to make it EASIER for the patient, I would expect their prices to be BETTER than the street. However, due to greed or some other crazy logic, it sounds like patients that are unable to grow their own medicine are being taken advantage of by some dispensary owners.

Even in my home state of Oregon, where we denied a recent dispensary measure, not only are there dispensaries (not a problem to me), but they are already in the business of price gouging (a very disturbing problem to me). The Human Collective opened earlier this year in Tigard, Oregon. I’d imagine that the owners were anticipating the passing of Measure 74, and jumped the gun on opening a dispensary, even though they refer to it as a ‘collective.’ Call it what you want; when you trade money for cannabis under the umbrella of medical marijuana legislation, then you are a dispensary in my opinion. To be a true collective, you would be truly non-profit, which the Human Collective claims to do, but doesn’t really.

To quote the founder, “Marijuana prices vary widely, Bennett said, falling anywhere between $1 to $15 per gram, depending on the strain or type.” 15 per gram! That is outrageous! Especially considering that the founder also charges a membership fee of 350 a year in addition to the high prices for medicine. Oregon law forbids exchanging marijuana for consideration in anyway. The Human Collective tries to dance around this by claiming that it “reimburses its growers for the exact amount it cost to produce their product,” which is perfectly legal. But 15 bucks per gram…that’s impossible to justify. That is more than what the marijuana costs on the street, and the incentive that brings it to the street is the enormous profit margin. Considering that the profit margin is higher at this ‘dispensary’ than it is on the black market clearly shows that the patients that frequent these establishments are getting the shaft.

I have yet to hear of a solid explanation for the price gouging that is occurring across the Western part of the United States. Some will say that the price has to stay artificially high in order to fend off abuse. If marijuana was cheaper at a dispensary than compared to the black market, then people would purchase at a dispensary, sell to the black market, and that would be horrible. Or some will say that they are a ‘non-profit’ and that they only have the patient’s welfare in mind, and as a result of so much research and quality testing, they have adjusted prices accordingly.

Such arguments do not resonate with me. Medical marijuana policies were created to help ailing patients, not make people rich. I understand people should be compensated for their efforts, but when they are getting rich while patients are being price gouged, how does that make the medical marijuana industry any better than the big pharm industry?? It is up to everyone in the medical industry to do this right, and TRULY keep the patient’s welfare at the top of the priority list.

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15 Comments

  1. I am familiar with the black market when it comes to bud, i was deep into the grind. I was young and dumb. Since then I been keeping tabs on how the whole pot dispensary has and is evolving. In the beginning It seemed to be a good thing. A safe place where a person could go for quality affordable medicinal bud. Ya, right! First of all what the hell happened to the supply and demand laws? Cut out the middle man and illuminate his cut and  those risks that are tact on to the price. Don’t get it wrong i know to grow quality costs more.  But the prices were ridiculous. There is no way people who benefit from it medicinally are able to afford those prices.  The supply is definitely outnumbering the demand and does a sick person have to break the bank just to get decent medicine. When i write decent I know you know what i mean. All I see is a good thing being exploited blatantly in the publics face. Pick up a free guardian paper and turn to the back. What the fuck! Competing like bitches in a flooded market that is supposed  supply a seriously real need. Damn it sucks to see us fuck this up too.It really is all about making money no matter what cause you say its for.  Thanks for your reading time. 

  2. I live in Tacoma WA and was wondering what dispensaries generally pay/reimburse growers for “donated” medical marijuana? Obviously the growers are the ones taking the risks, doing the work, paying the power and water bills, purchasing the supplies and equiptment. The equiptment needed just to set up the grow room properly is very costly. Between the lights, fans, and the list goes on and on.

    Then add into that the cost of the clones, soil, pots, ferts, plant stakes, and all the ticky tacky items that are needed and also have to be repurchased each time like the soil and ferts…. not cheap that’s for sure. Add into that the amount of time spent and labor put into it as well dealing with problems that might occur along the way with keeping things healthy to produce good quality meds for patients.

    Just wondering if anyone knows what the dispensaries pay the growers say for a pound or less or what people feel would be fair to pay the actual growers for their product?

  3. Well! Not exactly. Fhwcc.org is the finest resource for all of your requirements regarding Marijuana. You can get marijuana seeds and recepies products at very reasonable prices.

  4. YOUR BITCHING ABOUT $15 PER GRAM WEED!!!???!?!?

    TRY COMING OUT HERE TO HAWAII. $20 A GRAM EAASSYYYYY

  5. Zardoz: Eddie Lepp used that model. He’s in federal prison now.
    Rob: there is nothing in M74 that would have kept growers from giving free weed to patients they were already giving it to. And that is a really selfish reason to keep others from having access, especially since a program to give away free weed was in M74. Too many people didn’t bother to read it- just took the word of liars – and voted against it.

  6. Measure 74 was poorly written and never had a chance. Even OMMP patients voted against it, if it had passed they would no longer get free weed from their growers.

  7. I run a dispensary in Colorado and have been fighting this battle for nearly two years. We have the same problem except a lot of the dipensaries here aren’t even supplying the best meds. Patients are still concerned whether they are breaking the law or not, so they don’t shop around, and they end up getting gouged. There are quite a few of us that are doing the research, paying the best possible staff, and growing the best possible, organic medicine. We are getting our meds tested by medical cannabis labs to help us prescribe the best meds for our patients. This increases cost. There is lots of overhead. The great thing about having dispensaries is the different products offered to patients, i.e. tinctures, salves, creams, oils, hash, edibles, as well as high quality bud. It is very hard for a single patient to achieve this kind of treatment on their own, especially since most of them are new to cannabis. We are working towards giving the rest of the country a model to follow. Just watch.

  8. Well, the writing is on the wall. Grow or die. I think it would be a good idea to create growing spaces that people could rent as they need, and they can take care of things themselves. I haven’t seen that business model yet.

  9. Interesting commentary yet quite incomplete.

    First generally re cost of cannabis — maybe a national perspective will help. On the east coast, high-grade sinsemilla costs anywhere from $350-$500 per ounce — that is, up to nearly $18 a gram. Amazingly that price has held steady for almost 20 years. To easterners who are use cannabis, the west coast has always seemed like a sort of paradise.

    Second, specifically re the cost of cannabis in dispensaries — I worked for two years at a dispensary in the bay area so I’m very familiar with the price structure. Cannabis typically ranges from as low as $10 per eighth for shake (which is about $2.85 per gram) up to to $60 per eighth (that’s $17.14 per gram), with a selection of other grades/varieties in between those extremes.

    Additionally re cannabis in California dispenaries — the top-end $60/eighth cannabis really is top-grade, high-quality cannabis, some of the strongest and tastiest I’ve ever seen. Also, the dispensaries are putting quality guidelines into place so that the product patients receive is clean and free of molds, mites/insect damage, etc.

    I’m not trying to justify the prices — I can’t afford to pay that much for cannabis either (fortunately I found the highest-grade to be too strong for my own medical uses). Just setting the record straight.

  10. So.
    What are we going to do about it?
    Legislative Session is coming up and we need regulated dispensaries.
    But price fixing is not an option.
    And if we do nothing, the California dispensaries that are already operating will be setting the standards.
    If you want low prices, you have to create safe legal production on a large scale.

  11. disabled cannabis user on

    as I live on a disability check from a broken neck… I find cultivating dificult at best so I must buy my meds or if I’m lucky I get donations.. that being said..until recently I could grow my own… Here is my costs..6 full sized outdoor bushes, 8 ft tall, 2 lbs cured meds each,..cost me 200$ in nutes, and 55$ for water..12 lbs/255$ you do the math..cheap huh..now my indoor..well that’s a different story..every 60 days I get 14 dried oz. the nutes lights and water cost me 285$ so I can see a cost disparity due to method of growth… but at 50..60..or more for an eigth? I don’t see the justification for it..I try to see the costs of over head and so forth.. but …well..that’s my 2 cents…thanx

  12. A professional dispensary has overhead to pay for, but they also don’t have the risk that is associated with black market sales and have the advantage of a store front and above water advertising. As a result, they have increased customer traffic and sales, which should be more than enough to offset the overhead…I hear dispensary owners hide behind the overhead argument a lot, and they try to use it to justify 75 dollar sacks…the increased overhead should not double the price; it doesn’t take a math major to figure that out

  13. dispensary hater on

    dispensaries are so stupid. they buy your weed for nothing and sell it for a ton of money to stupid people. as long as it costs more in the store it will never get off the street

  14. Voters rejected non-profit dispensaries and free medicine for the poor. Perhaps they actually wanted for-profit dispensaries and really don’t care about giving free pot to the poor. Truth is, we need jobs for Oregon and all this quibbling about allowing people to get paid for their labor & complaining that people who actually have to pay for a storefront and taxes making a living is not going to bring the jobs we need.Get a grip: a professional dispensary has overhead to pay for that a black market dealer doesn’t.

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