This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
Would you spend $15 on a beer? Unless you’re some kind of beer aficionado, probably not.
But you’ll have to drop that much to purchase some of the new cannabis drinks hitting the market in Canada.
Legal weed edibles started to hit shelves in late December, and still aren’t widely available across the country.
VICE sourced prices of the various new edibles in B.C., Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, and found that those that are on sale aren’t cheap, especially when you consider that most contain a low dose of THC. (Keep in mind, the same products can vary in price between provinces and individual retailers.)
One of the priciest products, about to go on sale in Newfoundland, is Tweed’s distilled cannabis drinks, which cost $15 for one 150-millilitre bottle (plus $9 shipping if you order online!)
Both the houndstooth and penelope flavours contain the maximum 10 milligrams of THC legally allowed per drink, and penelope contains an additional 7.5 milligrams of CBD. But those are pretty low doses—enough for a newbie to feel something, but unlikely to have much of an effect for a more experienced cannabis consumer. Plus, Tweed’s distilled cannabis beverages are meant to be used as mixers and combined with other ingredients, so you likely wouldn’t be downing the whole thing at once.
Here are the prices of some other legal weed drinks, based on Newfoundland’s weed website:
Canopy’s Deep Space, a 222-ml carbonated drink with 10 mg of THC costs $8.
Canopy’s Quatreau sparkling water, with 20 mg of CBD, costs $4.50 for a 355-ml can.
Tweed’s Bakerstreet & Ginger drinks, containing two mg of THC, cost $4.
The Green Organic Dutchman’s dissolvable CBD powders, which can be mixed into drinks or food, cost $26 for 10 packs, each containing 10 mg of CBD.
The Green Organic Dutchman’s powder containing 10 mg of THC costs $4.
A Haven St. teabag containing 10 mg of THC and 5 mg of CBD costs $6.
Gummies and mints
In the gummy and mints category, there are some very low dose offerings.
The brand Kolab is selling two-packs of gummies that each contain just 1 mg of THC and 5 mg of CBD for $8 in Newfoundland. Those doses are so low that most people would need to purchase a minimum of several packs to feel any effect.
It’s $12 for a pack of four Kolab gummies containing a total of 40 mg of CBD and a little more than one mg of THC.
A pack of five of Aurora’s spearmints are $10 in B.C., which each mint containing 2 mg of THC. Aurora’s raspberry gummies are $8 for a five-pack in B.C., containing a total of 10 mg of THC.
The priciest chocolates we could find right now are Canopy’s Bean & Bud dark chocolates containing a total of 10 mg of THC, which are $12 for two pieces in Newfoundland. The producer says this line is “crafted from beans grown in a bird sanctuary in Dominican Republic.”
Tweed’s Bakerstreet peppermint chocolate bar with four pieces containing a total of 10 mg of THC costs $10 in New Brunswick, but is a couple dollars cheaper in Newfoundland
Aurora’s chocolate bars containing 10 mg total of THC cost $9.50 in New Brunswick
Foray’s vanilla chai chocolate bar costs $7 in Newfoundland, and is among the cheaper offerings. Its CBD chocolate bar is $6.
VICE reached out to Canopy, Aurora, and Auxly Group for comment on pricing and doses but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Sarah Gillies, founder of The Baker's Shop, an unregulated edibles company, said the prices are “crazy.”
She believes the legal market is trying to mimic the prices seen on the black market—between $5 and $20 for most things, but there’s a huge difference in the dosages.
“One of my lollipops is $10 and it’s 125 milligrams [of THC]. It’s a significant amount more,” Gillies said.
For comparison, California and Washington State, which both have legal edibles, allow 100 mg of THC per package.
Gillies said her drinks cost $10 each for 100 mg of THC—10 times what Canopy’s $15 distilled cannabis beverage offers. As for her gummies, a pack of three containing 250 mg of THC is $20, while the CBD gummies are $10 for up to 1,000 mg total.
Gillies said the dosing of the products only really makes sense for newbies.
“For a completely new recreational user, they’re like 10 milligrams, sweet. That would get someone high if they’ve never tried it before,” she saId. “For the medical patients, they’re going to go ‘oh, that’s nothing.’”
Damian Abraham, the Fucked Up frontman, VICE host, and longtime medical cannabis patient, said he would need to drink 100 of Canopy’s distilled cannabis drinks.
“I’d have to spend $1,500 before I started to feel something.”
The prices are “unconscionable,” he said.
“I do have a very high tolerance,” Abraham conceded. But, “the reality is most average cannabis consumers have dosages way over 10 milligrams—10 milligrams is a starting dose.”
Gillies said her company supplies lots of medical patients, which is why she tries to keep her prices low. Currently, medical cannabis patients in Canada don’t have their own supply of edibles.
She said medical patients should be given access to edibles with separate regulations allowing for much higher doses.
“You’re asking medical patients to continue to buy in black market,” she said. “Then the government is going to start finding us and sending our people to jail.”
Gillies also noted that the CBD doses for legal edibles, mostly around 10 mg, are far too low. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that’s been touted as a solution to a myriad of health issues, including anxiety, though evidence is still scarce. But its effects are a lot more difficult to discern than THC.
Gillies said her CBD doses for tinctures range from 350 mg to 2,500 mg.
“No one is going to feel anything off 10 milligrams of CBD,” she said.
Gillies, who runs her own facility out of Toronto, said she doesn’t understand the justification for the high prices from licensed producers, aside from maybe “luxurious packaging.”
“It’s definitely not due to the content inside,” she said.
There’s a lot of pressure riding on the success of legal edibles.
The cannabis industry has been struggling due to underwhelming sales, a slow retail rollout, and tumbling stocks. But with edibles and vapes making up a large chunk of the market in legal U.S. states, there’s reason to believe the launch of the new products will help turn things around.
With all of the investment into beverages coming from giants like Constellation Brands, whose portfolio includes Corona, there’s reason to believe edibles can disrupt the alcohol industry.
But likely not if it costs $15 for a drink that may not even get you buzzed.