This article originally appeared on VICE Colombia. Leer en Español.
The travel itinerary of a dedicated pot smoker is never complete if it doesn’t include research on the cost of weed in the country they're slated to visit. Not only is it wise to avoid being ripped off, but it's also important to know how much you'll have to save up to budget accordingly. And even though lingering global drug prohibition means it's still difficult to collect conclusive data—especially given the vast number of variables that factor into the street sale of weed around the globe—there is data out there that can help.
Seedo, a company that manufactures devices geared toward growing weed, recently published the 2018 Cannabis Price Index, a ranking developed by using information from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). According to the company, its objective was “to illustrate the constant need for legislative reform regarding cannabis use around the world” and “to determine if there are some lessons that we should learn from cities in [the] vanguard of marijuana legalization.”
The study includes 120 cities from around the world, among them some where the use of marijuana is still penalized and others where the drug is at least partially legal. In addition, Seedo developed a framework for calculating the potential tax revenues legalization might bring to cities (we didn't include it in our map below, but you can find the complete table here), comparing the taxes on marijuana in cities where it’s legal with the taxes imposed on cigarettes.
Uri Zeevi, chief marketing officer of Seedo, said that all of this illustrates how, “[by eliminating] the criminal component of marijuana, governments could regulate production in a more secure manner, robbing criminal gangs of their power and—as we show in this study—generating enormous tax revenues for the development of countries.”
The most expensive weed in the world, according to the study, is in Tokyo, where a gram sells for approximately $32.66.
To determine the price per gram, the study's authors conducted surveys at the local level, adjusting their findings with statistics obtained from the 2017 World Drug Report by the UNODC. These averages may be outdated—the price of weed in any given city on any given day obviously depends on the quality and whims of a dealer, among other things. For example, in Bogotá, Colombia, we know from experience that you can buy a gram of weed for 2,000 Colombian pesos ($0.70 USD), despite the fact that the study set the average street value at $2.20 USD (approximately 6,000 Colombian pesos).
The average number of metric tons of weed consumed annually in each city was calculated using an equation that considers the total population, prevalence of consumption (the percentage of the population that consumes weed during the course of a year, according to the UNODC’s report), and estimated total (annual) consumption in grams.
Some of the most relevant conclusions in the study were:
- New York has the highest average cannabis consumption in the index, with 77.4 metric tons per year.
- The most expensive weed in the world is in Tokyo, where a gram sells for approximately $32.66.
- The cheapest weed in the world is in Quito, Ecuador, and in Bogotá, Colombia. According to the averages published in the report, the respective sale prices are $1.34 and $2.20 per gram.
- Among the cities where it’s at least partially legal, Boston is at the top of the list when it comes to cost per gram, at $11.01, while in Montevideo, Uruguay, the average is about $4.15.
- Among the cities where it’s totally illegal, Jakarta, Indonesia, has the cheapest weed ($3.79 per gram), despite the fact that consumption can still bring very harsh jail or prison sentences.
Top ten cities with the most expensive weed in the world
Top ten cities with the least expensive weed in the world
Top ten cities with the highest weed consumption in the world
Top ten cities with the lowest weed consumption in the world
Take some time and explore all of the 120 cities included in the study through this map, which with was put together with lots of love by VICE Colombia. You’ll find information about the (estimated) price per gram in dollars, the legal status of the drug in that city, and the (estimated) average annual consumption in metric tons. Every city is designated with a different color pin, with data extracted from the study:
- Green: Indicates the cities where marijuana is legal, both in terms of possession and sale, as well as for recreational and medicinal use.
- Orange: Indicates the cities where marijuana is partially legal, which is understood as including at least one of the following:
- Possession of the drug in small quantities can be legal.
- Only medicinal use is permitted.
- Possession is legal, but sale is illegal.
- Weed is only legal for scientific uses.
- The use of weed is restricted to controlled areas (inside homes or in coffee shops, as is the case in Amsterdam).
- There are other laws that restrict use to specific purposes.
- Red: Indicates cities where use is completely illegal, both sale and possession, for recreational and medicinal uses.
Interactive Map: How much does weed cost around the world?
Zoom in, scroll around, and click on the pins to learn more about each specific city: