This is a question that most cannabis users will have asked themselves at some point here in the UK. Over the past 3-5 years cannabis has shot up in price from £15 eighths to a whopping £25 for eighths that have more than halved in average weight (from 3.5 grams to 2.0 grams) in parts of the UK today. From personal experience I have even paid up to £25 for an ‘Eighth’ that in fact weighed 1.4 grams, and from speaking to other cannabis users all across the UK I have concluded that deals like this seem to be happening quite a bit.
So why is this happening? What is making dealers squeeze even more money from our pockets for the most readily available illegal drug in the UK? The first and obvious factor is inflation. The cost of living is going up, and of course the knock-on effect means that the price of our cannabis is going up as well. Most things now cost more money, and the VAT increase from 17.5% to 20% has driven prices up even further. With increased living costs for people involved in cannabis supply, it would only be natural to raise cannabis prices to maintain profits.
It should also be noted that the price of cannabis is going up as the weights are going down, effectively making it many times more expensive than it once was at a time when Britain is in danger of another recession. Would it not be logical for the Government to use a new cannabis industry to ensure more economic stability for the UK?
There is also the greed factor. Dealers have clocked on to the fact that due to poor education on cannabis, many people do not know good quality or a good deal when they buy a bag of weed. They have hiked prices up over the past few years creating a domino effect that has caused the standard deal to drop from 3.5 gram eighths to 3.0 grams, then to 2.8, then 2.6 etc all the way down to 2.0 gram eighths for £20 – or sometimes £25 – throughout most of the UK.
Even moderate stoners will appreciate how little cannabis this is for what we are paying. Gone are the days when a tiny green sprinkle was all that was needed to get sky high. The amount each person smokes varies greatly, but a lot of people I know will smoke a gram in 4 or 5 spliffs, and the cost of this is enough to hurt the average bank balance.
Perhaps the most expensive cannabis I have bought cost me £25 for 1.4 grams of ‘high grade’ – I suffered this cost because of my love for cannabis, and it was nice to some smoke sativa strains for a change while I had this supply.
Of course I am speaking from a consumer’s perspective – as I am not a dealer I cannot rely on honesty when I ask dealers how much they get their weed for, as I am seen as a client and they would not want to damage business. I have been told £260 for an ounce before which works out at £10 a gram before profit – hard to believe. The standard I am hearing is £180 – £200 per ounce of standard weed, which could be wet or sprayed or both, depending on the batch. Unfortunately I do not know any local growers who I could buy directly from to ensure good quality and value.
Another factor contributing to the increase in cost of cannabis over the past few years is Gordon Brown’s decision to reclassify cannabis Class B effective from the start of 2009 (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_classification_in_the_United_Kingdom). When it had been downgraded in 2004 to a Class C drug penalties were reduced, and therefore cost decreased. People also began growing their own cannabis rather than importing it from abroad, which further lowered costs (and cut off international organised criminals from some of the UK supply chain). When cannabis was reclassified after pressure on Gordon Brown from campaigns by our nation’s tabloids the fear of increased penalties resulted in – you’ve guessed it – an increase in cannabis prices.
It is also worth noting that the campaigns by tabloids were based on false information (e.g. skunk being linked to mental health problems), creating confusion amongst the Great British Public – suddenly cannabis carried harsher sentences again, therefore the price went up and the tabloids won the battle to stop sensible drugs policy in its footsteps and send it back to fight another day.