Although the most expensive cannabis is in countries where it is illegal and penalties can be very harsh, the cheapest cities to buy a gram are more of a mixed bag. Some have stiff consequences, but others have an array of regulations or simply don’t enforce existing laws depending on circumstances. And even existing laws can be contradictory.
Seedo, a company that makes a device allowing users to grow cannabis plants at home, recently released a report that shows where the cost of a gram is cheapest in cities around the world. They compiled the list through crowdsourcing and cross-referencing it with the World Drug Report 2017.
5. Panama City, Panama
Price per gram: $3.85
Legal status: Medical only
The country banned the use and cultivation in 1923. But despite officials’ hard-talk about drug use, the country legalized cannabis for medical and scientific use in 2016.
Demand may be part of the reason prices are so low. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 3.6 percent of the country’s total population uses cannabis.
Penalties, when enforced, can be stiff. Possession of a small amount of cannabis can earn offenders a minimum of a year of incarceration. But as webehigh.org notes, if you are caught with that small amount, talking your way out of a ticket — and/or a bribe of $5 to $10 — is a distinct possibility.
4. Jakarta, Indonesia
Price per gram: $3.79
Legal status: Illegal
Indonesian law seems to have mixed emotions about the drug. Cannabis was banned during Dutch rule in 1927 and the law is still on the books. Possession can result in a sentence of four to 12 years in prison and up to a $896,000 fine — depending on the amount. For traffickers, a life sentence is possible or even death.
However, a 2009 law allowed that if a user — or their family — voluntarily reports violating the law to authorities, charges can be dropped.
3. Asuncion, Paraguay
Price per gram: $2.22
Legal status: Medical only
What country is one of the world’s largest producers of cannabis? Paraguay — second only to Mexico in Latin America and supplier to much of South America. Where can possession of the substance get you up to five years behind bars? Paraguay.
However, at a judge’s discretion, an offender caught with a small amount can go to rehabilitation instead of jail. The country approved the use of medical cannabis in 2016. Recreational possession wasn’t illegal until 2015.
Demand, again, may play a role more so than penalties anyway. Vice reported that less than one percent of the country’s population uses cannabis.
2. Bogota, Colombia
Price per gram: $2.20
Legal status: Mixed
The country made cannabis for medical use legal in 1986. But a patchwork of regulations prevented growing and producing it for patients on a national scale. The government cleared up the issue 19 years later.
In 2012, Colombia decriminalized cannabis, allowing for possession of up to 20 grams and growing up to 20 plants. But public use and selling the substance is still against the law.
“That’s the catch,” said cannabis cultivator and manager at How High Smoke Shop, who goes by the alias Paco María. “It’s difficult to understand Colombian law because you can grow up to 20 plants, but if police catch you with more than 20 grams, you can be in very big trouble.”
It can put personal use growers under a lot of stress, especially considering the size that plants can grow outdoors in Colombia—they’re huge!
As with Paraguay actual use among the country’s population is low.
1. Quito, Ecuador
Price per gram: $1.34
Legal status: Mixed
Ecuador also has a mixed bag of cannabis regulations. Possession of 10 grams for personal use is completely legal. As is medicinal use. But selling and growing cannabis is illegal.
Foreigners may find actually closing the deal difficult or even dangerous. Because of kickback scams between dealers and the police, numerous publications warn about tourists making purchases on the street—webehigh.org says get it delivered.
…. and in the U.S.?
At number 36 on the list, Seattle, Wash., was the cheapest U.S. city at $7.58 a gram. The state was among the first in the nation to have state-controlled sale of cannabis for medical use. Voters made recreational use legal in 2012. The state licenses all retail businesses and growers. Growers may not sell directly to consumers.
The cheapest North American city was Vancouver, Canada. It ranked number 24 at $6.40 a gram. Medical cannabis was made legal in 2001. Recreational use and retail sale was approved by the government in 2017 and is supposed to go into effect this summer.