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Why it pays to compare cannabis prices

When legalization 2.0 arrives on Oct. 17, a slew of new recreational cannabis products (edibles, beverages, concentrates, topicals) will become legal. And with dozens of cannabis strains across the indica, sativa and hybrid spectrum, it can feel overwhelming to compare everything on the market — especially when it comes to cost. Price is just one consideration when it comes to finding the best cannabis products, but it’s an important one for many consumers.

And just like comparing credit cards, bank accounts or insurance providers, it pays off to be informed on how legal cannabis products are packaged and priced to find the most value when considering a purchase.

How legal cannabis is sold in Canada 

First, the basics. In Canada, recreational dried flower is sold in three package sizes: 1 gram, 3.5 grams and 7 grams. As with most consumer packaged goods, the price per unit decreases when you buy in larger quantities — so if you find a type of dried cannabis you like, you’ll save a dollar or two per gram by buying the 7g size. 

Pre-rolled joints (aka “pre-rolls”) are typically sold in two sizes: 1g (sold on its own), or 0.5g (sold as part of a package). Pre-rolls come with convenience cost: they’re usually more expensive on a per-gram basis. For example, if you buy a 1g pre-roll of Strain X, it’s likely to cost you a dollar or two more than if you bought a 1g container of Strain X. 

Cannabis oils aren’t sold in standard sizes, which makes them a little harder to compare side-by-side, but you can easily work out the price per mL by dividing the total cost (ie. $30 / 30mL bottle = $10 per mL).

How to compare cannabis prices 

Here’s the funny thing about comparing cannabis: prices may differ slightly across the country, but you can’t exactly pick and choose the lowest country-wide price — if you’re purchasing online for home delivery, you have to buy from the designated online distributor in your home province. For example, if you’re a resident of Ontario, you can only purchase cannabis online from the Ontario Cannabis Store website. 

However, Canadians of legal age can buy from any cannabis retail outlet in person. So if you’re a resident of Prince Edward Island on vacation in Alberta, you can visit a store in Calgary and make a purchase. If you’re travelling in Canada, make sure to check your destination’s legal age — it’s 18 in some provinces and territories, but 19 in others. And always make sure to have valid government ID on you, because proof of age is required for store entry and to accept online deliveries. 

Read cannabis reviews

One way to learn more about different products before buying them is to read cannabis reviews, the same way you would check reviews for other consumer products and services. Lift & Co. has thousands of reviews on hundreds of legal cannabis strains, oils and accessories that come real people and include information on THC and CBD levels, terpenes, scents, activities used for, reported effects and whether the reviewer would buy it again. For example, if you’re looking for milder, sedative experience but the majority of reviews for Strain X indicate it gives a strong, uplifting buzz, Strain X might not be for you. Once you’ve tried a cannabis strain or oil, you can pay it forward by leaving your own review. 

Remember, price isn’t everything

So, you’ve picked out a couple products diligently compared the prices. Should you go for the cheapest one? Not necessarily. Cannabis is a personal experience, and cost isn’t any indication of how it will make you feel. Rather than penny-pinching down to the last cent, it’s more realistic to decide how much you’re comfortable spending in total and then choose a product that fits within that budget. You might find a more expensive product that you feel is worth the cost, or hit it out of the park with a cheaper one.

The bottom line

Cannabis affects everyone differently, and the price is just one thing to consider alongside THC and CBD levels, terpenes, personal tolerance and even consumption method. But if getting the most bang for your buck is one of your primary concerns, you’re best off finding your personal sweet spot between price and desired effects.

Lift & Co. helps Canadians explore, understand, and make better-informed decisions around cannabis strains and licensed producers through events, content, data insights and cannabis reviews.