Between supply chain issues and a global pandemic, now is a tough time to budget for weed. According to a report published last week by New Leaf Data Services, the average price of cannabis in the U.S. is $1,497 a pound, and due to lack of federal regulation, marijuana prices vary wildly depending on where you’re buying it.
For recreational consumers, buying less weed can make for a big change in lifestyle. For medical users, it could have serious health implications.
So how do you save money on weed, without buying less of it?
Good news: we have answers.
We brainstormed some ideas, did a little research, and talked to Alex Levine, Chief Development Officer at Eaze, one of California’s largest legal cannabis companies. Fusing together all of these forces of knowledge, we came up with a comprehensive six-step guide to saving money on cannabis without compromising the mass of your stash.
Here’s how to save money on weed in 2022:
1. Buy in bulk
This tip might get you the most bang for your buck.
Medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries will often give consumers a price break for purchasing larger amounts of cannabis. An ounce of cannabis flower, for instance, will usually be 10-20% cheaper than the same amount of weed purchased in small amounts over time.
Levine says the consumer isn’t the only one who benefits from bulk purchases.
“Bulk purchases use less packaging, so it’s a lot less material and there is a lot less labor that goes into it,” Levine told GreenState. “So from the dispensary’s perspective, there’s incentive to encourage people to buy in bulk.”
Levine added that buying cannabis in bulk is also better for the environment, since the minimal packaging creates less waste.
So, between being better for the earth, better for your local dispensary, and better for your wallet, buying weed in bulk seems like a win-win-win situation to us.
Of course, if you want to buy in bulk, you’ll have to get good at storing cannabis so it lasts. More on that later.
2. Sign up for dispensary newsletters and loyalty programs
You know that newsletter from your local dispensary that sits in your inbox every week? Start reading that.
Regularly checking emails and SMS notifications from your favorite dispensaries is one of the best ways to invest your time if you want to save big on weed. Since cannabis companies are restricted from large-scale advertising opportunities in many markets, most dispensaries and cannabis delivery services fully rely on these channels to alert customers to upcoming discounts and special offers.
And if you’re part of a dispensary’s loyalty program, you may receive free or discounted products and other perks based on previous purchases.
3. Change what cannabis products you use
Spending too much on weed? You might get more return on your investment by switching to a new method of consumption.
As most of us are aware, there’s more than one way to get weed into your system. You can smoke it, vaporize it, eat it in gummies or baked goods, etc., etc., etc. There are even topical THC and CBD creams that absorb into your skin.
With all these options, it’s easy for buyers to become allured by the newest, trendiest product. As a general rule, though, Levine says the less processed the product is, the cheaper it will usually be.
“Dollar for dollar, gram for gram, flower is generally the most cost-effective,” Levine said. “Every time a manufacturer is making edibles or vape products they have to extract it, so there’s extra labor involved and the materials cost more.”
It’s like buying groceries instead of going out to eat: when you want to save money, buy the ingredients, not the meal.
4. Make your stash last
Remember what we said about buying in bulk? If you’re going to do that, you’ll need to know how to store your weed so it lasts longer. Otherwise, all that extra cannabis you bought will look and taste nasty by the time you get to it.
Oxygen is the enemy of cannabis. To keep your weed fresh and flavorful, you’ll want to keep your stash somewhere air can’t find it.
Levine recommends storing your weed in an air-tight container. Glass jars with air-tight seals work well for this, and there are also vacuum-sealed cannabis containers available for purchase online.
You can read more about how to stash your hash here. In the meantime, here’s a quick tip for cannabis storage: stop using plastic bags.
“Ziplock bags will give your weed a pastic-y taste,” Levine said. “And even though they look like they are air-tight, the material they are made of is porous. That’s why, if you leave weed in a zip lock bag, you’ll start to smell the weed around the house pretty soon.”
5. Grow your own weed (if you’re a pro)
Similarly to growing vegetables in your backyard, growing your own cannabis can be an effective way to save some money—but there’s a catch. This tip only works if you’re really, really good at it.
Cannabis is extremely difficult to grow, and even more difficult to grow in large quantities. It requires several additional expenses many growers don’t consider. For what most small-scale growers will spend keeping their plants alive, you could probably buy twice the amount of harvested cannabis at a local dispensary—and that’s assuming the plants yield at all.
First, there’s the cost of time. Growing cannabis is a multi-month investment. It can take 12-15 weeks for a cannabis clone to bud, and even longer if you start with seeds.
Then, there’s the cost of sustaining the plant. Just the nutrients and soil mix required to keep a cannabis plant healthy will cost more than a small amount of cannabis flower at your local dispensary. You should also factor in the electric bills you’ll rack up from the grow room.
Levine said the right reason to start growing your own weed is to pick up a new hobby or try creating something new, not to save money.
“You’d have to be a phenomenal grower to make it (growing cannabis) a way to save money,” Levine said. “Consistently good yields would guarantee a profit, but that’s unlikely. If you’re not a pro, the only reason I can see to grow your own cannabis would be as a fun hobby or if there’s a certain unique strain you want to produce, but not to save money.”
That said, if you are a pro grower regularly harvesting cannabis flower, smoking or making your own edibles from your homegrow is, of course, a major money-saver.
6. Shop dispensaries located near other dispensaries
Since the cannabis market is not yet federally regulated, the price of cannabis varies dramatically based on supply and demand, both for recreational and medical cannabis.
In 2021, an Emerald Magazine report showed the cost of weed in Washington, D.C., a city where recreational cannabis is legal but dispensaries are few and far between, was three times higher than in Oregon, a state where recreational cannabis is legal and the dispensaries are plenty.
Ok, so why isn’t everyone pilgrimaging to Oregon to buy weed?
Well, since cannabis is legal under federal law, transporting it across state lines is a felony, even if you’re just driving it from one state where it’s legal to another.
But cannabis prices are affected by region, too. If you live in a rural area, try shopping at a dispensary somewhere close to other dispensaries in your state.
Competition drives down prices, so a dispensary in a city will usually keep their prices competitive with those surrounding them, while the only dispensary for 1,000 miles is more likely to jack up prices simply because it owns the local market.
Bottom line: Just because you’re pinching pennies doesn’t always mean you need to roll a smaller joint or forsake your nightly toke. In many cases, budgeting is about shopping smarter, not less.
Elissa Esher is an editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.