In the states with the longest track record of recreational sales of flower — Colorado, Washington and Oregon — the average price for a gram of flower declines every year.
But the rate of decline among states is not identical.
Consider Washington. When the Evergreen State launched recreational cannabis in July of 2014, flower sold for an average of $22.41 per gram. The following month, the price rose to $24.45, but by December of that year it had declined to $17.44 per gram, according to data from BDS Analytics, one of the premiere sources of cannabis data in the world.
Prices continued to dip across 2015 and 2016. For 2017 through March, the price per gram in Washington State had positively plummeted — down to $5.95 a gram. That is a hefty drop from the high of $24.45 — no other state comes close to the rate of decline, or the prices Washington consumers paid for pot when the state kicked-off recreational sales.
If Washington State’s angle of descent was like a double black-diamond ski trail, Colorado’s has been decidedly green. Since Washington State supports only a recreational channel for sales, we will examine only recreational sales prices in Colorado, and ditto for Oregon when we study that state’s sales. Prices in medical channels are usually lower than recreational channels, and if we look at combined channels in Colorado and Oregon the medical channel will draw down the average. For this piece, we want to compare apples with apples.
The average 2014 price in Colorado for recreational cannabis was $9.28. In 2015, Centennial State consumers on average paid $8.69, and in 2016 prices nudged down to $7.72. Through April of 2017, the average price for a gram of flower was $6.89.
The descent of Oregon’s recreational flower market is similar to Colorado’s — it, too, is a green trail — but tickets are pricier in the Beaver State.
Oregon rolled-out recreational sales of cannabis in October of 2015, but let’s begin with 2016, the first full year during which Oregonians could purchase flower in recreational dispensaries. Last year, flower in recreational channels sold for $9.55 in January, and by the end of the year prices had not changed much — they inched down just two cents, to $9.53, for the year-long average. Through May of this year, prices have declined to $8.92, with an average price of $8.85 in May.
Washington’s double-black-diamond experience with cannabis prices may have been a fun ride, while it lasted. But it’s likely to be over. With a per-gram price of $5.57 during the first three months of 2017, there isn’t much more room to drop.