Economy

5 Countries Where Marijuana is Cheapest and Most Expensive

September 1st 2015

By:
Kyle Jaeger

If you are in the international market for marijuana, your legal options are limited. Though the cultivation of pot is widespread across the world, its legal status has only just begun to shift, with some countries choosing to decriminalize the substance and others loosening up enforcement regulations for users and growers.

The plant can grow just about anywhere, making it generally accessible to the global population, and, subsequently, one of the most commonly used illicit substances everywhere from the Americas to Europe. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there are more than 177 million cannabis users globally.

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As far as the economics of the marijuana market are concerned, the price of pot varies dramatically depending upon what continent, country, and region you are visiting. Data on the black market is generally hard to come by; supply and demand fluctuate, and given the illicit nature of the trade, financial transparency also tends to be a problem.

That said, there are resources available that offer a window into the dynamic world of marijuana sales, and in an effort to understand how the market operates on an international scale, ATTN: looked at data from the UNODC 2014 World Drug Report, as well as a user-generated database, Price of Weed—which the United Nations used to develop its own report on global cannabis trends—and compiled a list of the top five countries where marijuana is the most and least expensive.*

Though this list provides information about the cost of weed in different countries, cannabis tourists should be advised: Purchasing marijuana in many of these regions is illegal and not recommended. 

Here's where weed is the most expensive.

1. Ireland ($13.45 per gram)

Ireland marijuana

In April, the country's new Minister of State with Responsibility for the Drug Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, announced that he would look into the prospect of decriminalizing marijuana in Ireland, where the substance is currently illegal.

"I am going to mark [sic] any hard calls on that but the difference between decriminalization and legalization is quite different," Ó Ríordáin said. "We need to have a proper discussion before we set up alarm bells in people's heads."

2. Japan ($15.67 per gram)

Japan marijuana

Though the Japanese government has maintained a strict opposition to marijuana use in the country, a recent loophole was discovered that allows residents to use imported CBD, a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis derived from the stalk of the pot plant. Japanese law says that consumption of the leaf and flower is illegal but doesn't mention anything about the stalk.

3. Finland ($19.12 per gram)

Finland marijuana

Because marijuana is less common in Finland than other countries in the European Union, the price of weed tends to skew higher. According to users on the popular online marijuana forum, Grasscity, it is generally easy to illegally purchase pot in the country's capital, Helsinki, but the quality of the overpriced bud is inconsistent. As in other countries, many Finnish people do not see a qualitative difference between cannabis and other, harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. That contributes to harsh marijuana laws in the region.

4. Estonia ($20.31 per gram)

Estonia

In Estonia, marijuana is decriminalized up to a certain extent. If you have less than 7.5 grams on you, then you will get slapped with a fine. If you're caught with more than that amount, however, you might end up in an Estonian jail for up to five years.

5. Norway ($21.90 per gram)

Norway

"In Norway, there is a sliding scale approach to cannabis possession," the BBC reported. "Less than 15 grams is considered 'for personal use' and could see you fined between 1,500-15,000 kroner ($215-$2300). Carrying more is considered 'dealing' and punished much more harshly, including jail."

Here's where weed is the least expensive.

1. South Africa ($4.45 per gram)

S Africa

Last year, a piece of legislation was introduced to the South African parliament that would legalize marijuana for medical use if passed. Some drug reform experts doubt that it will pass; pot is currently decriminalized in South Africa.

Part of the reason for the government's resistance to legalization might be related to reports that drug traffickers have been combining heroin, rat poison, and marijuana to create a new and dangerous drug called "nyope."

2. Afghanistan ($4.35 per gram)

marijuana Afghanistan

According to the UNODC, Afghanistan is now the top pot producer in the world, beating out Morocco as of 2010. The country has expansive fields where cannabis grows wild, but as the drug market has changed, Afghanistan has responded, producing more marijuana than ever—approximately 1,500-3,500 tons per year.

"The entire process is a non-expensive, fast industrial process, which is indeed somewhat worrying," Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of UNODC in Afghanistan, said at a press conference in Kabul. "We have already enough problems with the opium so we don't want to see the cannabis taking over."

3. India ($3.03 per gram)

India cannabis

India is no stranger to cannabis. Considered one of five "sacred plants," marijuana has been a common feature of the region for thousands of years, going back as far as 2000 B.C. But India is no friend of cannabis, either. Not anymore at least. In the 1961, the country signed an international treaty that imposed a blanket ban on the substance, along with harder drugs.

Pot is currently cheap, common, and legally questionable in India. It grows on vast swaths of land, wild and cultivated. Some regions permit small amounts of pot for personal use, and several religious groups are allowed to use the substance for ceremonies and rituals, but generally speaking, it is illegal.

4. Brazil ($2.41 per gram)

Brazil cannabis

This year, Brazil approved the use of the non-psychoactive cannabis compound, CBD, to treat people suffering from serious illnesses and disorders such as epilepsy, the New York Times reported. CBD is not produced in the country, but marijuana is fairly common in its plant form. A growing legalization movement has staged rallies and led marches in efforts to advance legal weed in Brazil.

5. Uruguay ($1.00 per gram)

Uruguay marijuana

Widely used, legalized, and regulated, marijuana is a major crop in Uruguay. It is also exceptionally inexpensive, with the price of one gram of pot set at $1, as dictated by the country's drug laws. You can legally grow up to six pot plants for personal use and though Uruguay has not yet implemented its marijuana dispensary system, there are more than 2,700 registered personal growers in the country as of August 2015.

*This list excludes countries where less than 100 users submitted information on cannabis costs to the Price of Weed database. Other sources, including DrugAbuse.com, have compiled lists that cite different countries as having the cheapest and most expensive marijuana; after looking at data from the United Nations and Price of Weed, ATTN: chose to compile a list that only includes select countries with respect to the number of user reports currently available.