August 29, 2011

The Price of Weed

We’re very happy to report that a new FloatingSheep map is featured in the September issue of WIRED magazine under the title of "Infoporn: O Say, Can You THC?" [1]. Our map shows the differences in the retail price of marijuana based on user generated reports from the PriceofWeed website. According to WIRED, it offers "a look at the sprawling gray market that gets some high and others heated."

Retail Price of Marijuana Cost Surface
Interpolated from points where n > 2
Green = lower prices; Yellow = higher prices.

One of the things that jumps out clearly is the low prices associated with the marijuana production sites associated with Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt County in California as well as Kentucky and Tennessee. See this National Drug Intelligence Center report on the distribution of marijuana production by state.

The map featured in WIRED is taken from a much more detailed research paper focused on the potential for user-generated data to shed light on underground economies such as marijuana use. The map relies upon thousands of user reports on marijuana purchases referenced to city locations from the Priceofweed website (see our earlier posting). After cleaning the data to get rid of the outliers, we created a continuous surface using a statistical interpolation technique known as kriging to identify the average variance among price differences through a spherical semivariogram model. To obtain a price for each location show in the map above, an interpolated value was estimated as a weighted average of prices from its twelve neighboring points.

One of the issues in generating these maps is how many observations we would require at each point (or city) before including it in interpolation. Increasing the number of observations (e.g., n > 10) helps control error in the average price at each point but limits the number of points. Lowering the sample size requirement (e.g., > 2) results in more points upon which to base the interpolation but increases price variance. In order to visualize these differences compare the map above (n > 2) with the map below (n > 10). While the first map shows a finer resolution of price variation (albeit with a decrease in the accuracy of the pricing data) it is consistent with the patterns resulting from the rougher resolution in the second map.

Retail Price of Marijuana Cost Surface
Interpolated from points where n >10

We’re in the process of finalizing a paper analyzing this data including a state and city-level multivariate analysis of price. Key explanatory variables in the models include the legality of medical marijuana, level of production and an intriguing distance decay effect as one moves away from Northern California. You can download the draft paper at this link. As always we welcome questions and critiques.

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[1] You know that someone had a lot of fun coming up with this title.

41 comments:

  1. Finally Science becomes useful to me.....

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  2. This is bunk. I've lived in both states, and I can tell you that weed is 5-6 times more expensive in KY than it is in AZ. Also, if the prices are based on an ounce of weed, those are whack too. In AZ, the going rate for an ounce has been $60-70 for at least the last 12 years. Unless all the people reporting prices from AZ are smoking hydro or something, the conclusion seems to be that data generated by pot heads on the internet isn't terribly reliable.

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    1. You have anecdotes. They have statistics. The smart money is on them, not you.

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    2. Your an idiot Midas. I live in Arizona and weed prices for an ounce here are close to $400 an ounce. Everything is just about double what you pay in California. Unless your buying mexican weed and then your going to pay about $175 an ounce......but its low quality and harsh. Check your search engine and do some reading.

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  3. Geez Midas, at those prices, you are smoking some crappy dope.

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  4. Does anyone know how to generate the map?

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  5. One thing that seems to be clearer to me after staring at the maps for a long, long time, man, is how much less distortion there is to the map projection when n>10 than when n only >2. (Who squished the states? They shouldn't have done that; that's not right.) I think I'll stare for another hour.

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  6. Midas...60 for an ounce...that is dirt weed prices. Nug prices are much more than that...even in a legal state like Colorado...$360 on average for an ounce of nug.

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  7. People who call chronic "hydro" irritate the hell out of me. Just because marijuana was grown HYDROPONICALLY does not mean that it is chronic. It is a method of growing marijuana and some people don't do it right. This means that you can get "hydroponically" grown marijuana that is really shitty. So quit calling it that, it's ridiculously ignorant and you sound like an idiot to people who actually know a damned thing about it.

    I'm sure that they are talking about decently grown pot here. So your ditch weed that you get for $70/ounce doesn't apply here. I can get that price here in Louisville, I've lived here for 4 years. But guess what, I wouldn't buy it. That shit doesn't get you very high.

    Let me give you a piece of advice, get better weed and buy a dug out with a one hitter! You will not be smoking 5 bowls in a sitting if you actually buy good weed. You can take one, two, three hits with a one hitter and you'll be really high. Not to mention you're intaking less worthless smoke, more THC, therefore maintaining a better standard of health. Oh also, if you buy BETTER WEED in less quantities than your ditch weed...

    You won't be subject to such high fines if you ever get caught. Believe it or not, the cops don't care whether it is ditch weed or the best chronic around. They don't judge your fines or sentences by how much THC is in it. They judge it by WEIGHT. So think about it not only as efficiency for highness and health, but also it's protecting your little virgin asshole from going to jail.

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    1. Guess what? Because of the black market, terms like "chronic" mean different things to different people. You've confused snobbery with erudition.

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    2. Tell um Gabe....finally someone who knows what they are talking about.

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  8. Midas Goldberg doesn't know what he's talking about.

    He may have gotten weed at ~$70/oz in Arizona but that is definitely not the going rate for an ounce anywhere in America--not close, even.

    I'm not sure why he insinuates that hydroponic marijuana would be more expensive - hydro is for yields, not quality. Anyone paying more because it's "hydro" is allowing themselves to be ripped off. It's lower quality, the benefits are all for the sellers and growers, not the consumer.

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  9. All that wonderful hydro weed was designed to do one thing.... emulate the quality of natural equatorial weed, but with suitability to be grown indoors. So if you can get natural equator-grown weed for 70 an oz, that hardly makes it ditch weed. You hydroheads are the ones being price gouged. HAHAHAHAH! I have never found an indoor weed that can stand toe-to-toe with natural equator-grown pot. And at 3x the price, you ppl are idiots.

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  10. I can tell you the prices for Massachusetts are dead on. It's hard to find any quality bud for less than 350/oz. Typically I will pay up to 400/z for medical grade from Cali, maybe up to 300-350/z for standard KB. Mids run around 200/z. Shwag/Ditchweed maybe 100/z. Most small timers around here will just sell grams of KB at 20 a piece, which comes out to 550/z.

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  11. Gee Gabe, let's get pissy about drug slang. I'm in my mid-30s and quit worrying about or keeping up with what all the cool kids are saying a long time ago. I understand hydro simply refers to the method of production. I guess I'm just old and using outdated slang. Back in the day, and I suspect still, hydroponically-produced weed was, generally, of a higher quality than your usual "reg." If it wasn't, no one would pay the premium for it. Nothing screams "self-absorbed dickhead" like someone who rushes to immediate judgment about the intelligence of a complete stranger and then feels the need to correct said strangers alleged idiocy by pointing out the obvious.

    FWIW, Mexican dirt weed gets me high just fine. I prefer smoking nice, fat joints. If I do that with chronic (See, I'm getting hipper by the moment. Thank you!) I'll need to get a 2nd or 3rd job. And since you're so concerned about my "virgin asshole" ending up in the pokey, I'll remind you that possession of drug paraphernalia (e.g., a dugout) is a separate crime apart from possession of marijuana and often carries stiffer penalties than mere marijuana possession. Joints aren't paraphernalia and I can swallow one in a pinch. Don't try that with your dugout. See, I can give unnecessary advice, too.

    Likewise, your argument about the virtues of possessing smaller amounts of chronic (Hey, I'm getting with it! Thank you again for helping a middle-aged man embarrass himself less!) vs. a larger amount of dirt weed isn't relevant to me. In AZ, any amount under 2 oz is considered possession for personal use. So, whether I'm caught with an 1/8 of chronic or an oz of the cheap shit, the consequences are the same. And, again, I won't be caught with paraphernalia because I don't have any.

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  12. it really depends on the 'ditch weed' in your area. here, we get an oz of reggie for $40. put that in your one hitter and your high off two hits. i guess it just sucks where yall are from but you dont have to be an asshole to people who dont have to pay out the ass for a high.

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  13. Did you guys filter the data to take quality into account? Quality effects price. Sure, you may be able to get an ounce for cheap in south texas, but it's likely mexican dirt weed, whereas in the emerald triangle the quality will be much "higher".

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  14. TH PRICE IS WHATEVR THE MARKET WILL BARE

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  15. - Doesn't seem very accurate. We have high quality greenbud going for $175 in many dispensaries in Colorado vs $70 for Mexican brown, which is unavailable anymore

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    1. It doesn't seem accurate because you don't understand statistics. Your anecdotes don't mean much compared to statistical analysis.

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  16. There are so many variables that determine weed price from location to quality to law enforcement. The best weed can cost as much as $500/oz here on the east coast to as low as $50/oz for schwag, which I haven't seen in a long time. BTW anyone who smokes low quality weed doesn't know what their missing. And anyone selling anything but the high quality weed has no idea that the shit sells it self.

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  17. Thanks for all the feedback. A couple of responses.

    1) Accuracy of prices. The data for this map comes from PriceOfWeed.com and while we got rid of the outliers for this map, determining an average price for this market is tough. The original data is available at PoW so take a look.

    2) Quality levels. The maps here include all quality levels but our statisitcal analysis is just based on high quality. Check the following blog entry for details. We kept all quality levels in these maps because 1) it gave more points to interpolate from and 2) the makeup of PoW reports could provide an indication of the local market and so should be reflected in the average price used. We have generated some maps just for reports identified as "high quality" but overall the patterns shown here stay about the same, although the price ranges will change.

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  18. In MS we can buy decent weed at $100 an oz. Its not dirt weed, but it does the job.

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  19. I wish you would have read this article as well... BUT thats just my opinion.. http://weeddeservebetter.com/2011/08/26/are-you-paying-too-much-for-meds-2/

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  20. well, its getting more expensive to take that Magic Flight

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  21. Lots of great comments thus far, some spot-on and others...well...not so much..but I'll say this: The price of pot is TOO much. No, this is not a moral dilemma, nor is it a question of economics but yet another by-product of the nanny-state telling all of us how to live. No one says we have to listen. As a US citizen, any law that I feel infringes my rights as a US citizen is invalid. I DO NOT NEED the100 senators and 500+ representatives to agree with me. I am NOT a mindless drone.
    Oh...my weed?..it's free, it's high quality, and it's pesticide free...

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  22. $25 an oz for two hit weed in Argentina, mostly from Paraguay. Possession for personal use in private is legal. Possession and use of coca leaf (a good energy boost) is totally legal in the Andean zone of South America south of Ecuador.

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  23. Hydroponically grown weed has the advantage of less stem and branch weight. One can see the difference. Weed that's grown outdoors has a MUCH larger stalk and the smaller branches within the bud are larger and woodier. Either way, you can turn out crap if, for the most part, you don't know haw to cure weed (it IS a weed after all and if you just tend to it and make sure the soil and nutrients are good even schwag Mexican seeds grow decent herb), or in the case of hydro, if you're a dunce about plant life and don't understand the relationship between light cycles and plant growth.

    Around here, the central coast of California, the price of MONSTER weed got knocked down last year when everyone thought it was going to be legalized, so every yuppie with mortgage problems started growing. At harvest last year you could buy an 1/8 on the street from someone you didn't know and pay $25 for it... It's still hovering around $35 if you know people. In Mendo and Humboldt they damn near give it away around harvest time.

    We'll see what happens this year, but I will say that I've lived here for 35 years and pot prices are about what they were when I moved here in the mid-70s, and in relation to the massive increase in the cost of living compared to then, the price would be considered historically low.

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  24. Why no references to the killer bud grown here in Alaska?

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  25. in Denver you can get high grade for around 100 an oz if your friends with somebody. i don't think any statistic is accurate these days

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    1. It's a good thing that people listen to statisticians and not you, then. You have one single data point. This study has thousands.

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  26. This is coming from the hudson valley in ny,60-100 for mexibrick,120-170 for mids,200-280 for KB and 350-420 for an oz of top quality chron.You can't give an accurate description on price since dealers can put whatever price they want on a bag.

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  27. @akbright-Because nobody really gives a $hit about Alaskan Thunderfuck in comparison to OG Kush, L.A. Confidential and any assortment of Pure Breed strains from particular seed companies ie, Kaia's Kush (Apothecary Seeds) Jack Herer (Serious Seeds) or even the REAL OG Kush from the "New Jersey Weed Man" in downtown North Hollywood....

    @EVERYBODY-Above all else sitting around and arguing the price of weed by everyone whom argues that their own hometowns have lower prices. (yet still havent taken into the account whether the grower ACTUALLY put time into flushing the sodium phosphates and other bitter salt out of their buds every week)...(HENCE WHY "HYDRO" DOES-IN FACT COST MORE!!!) or even the understanding of putting more time into "curing" their buds in mason jars, UV protected for 14-20 days before it being sold- is the biggest disappointment of you bitchy, whiny women.

    Who cares about how close the "blob-like" colorings of a potheads rendition of the price difference in their own Picasso-depiction of "the doppler-radar approach" to price climate.

    Not for nothing but so of you guys gotta get a friggin life.

    WHO CARES!!!

    SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY AND SHUT UP!!

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    1. You're close to being right, but not quite. You almost get there when you note that "OG Kush" is a name applied to various strains of cannabis of varying quality that may or may not have the same origin.

      Weed snobs don't quite understand that in a black market, people often call different things by the same name, the same thing by different names, etc. and the knowledge they believe they've amassed only applies if they're talking with someone who buys into the same folklore that they do (for instance, what strain of weed is the 'real' OG Kush) . . .

      Hopefully, with the rise of a regulated weed market in Colorado, pot snobs will realize that most of what they believe they "know" is bunk, and we'll get a more rigorous definition of strains and quality.

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  28. Matthew,

    Have you tried using other interpolation algorithms (minimum curvature, spline, Akima, etc.) or using different sized windows to get a smoother result. It looks rather choppy.

    Also, it would be great if you could plot points, on your final map, where you actually have data. That way we can have an idea of the reliability of your results everywhere.

    Thanks,
    Antonio

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  29. It's cheapest in Lake Michigan then? Thanks for the info!

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  30. @Midas ... keep your bunk mexican cartel shwag... hydro is unsustainable. Light Dep, breh, it's the future. I have outdoor Blue Dream you would beg me to sell to you for 3 hundo/Z in Cali. I make wax that will put you on your back.

    @FS, Thanks for the map, btw.

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    1. At least realize that in a black market, all the hip lingo is only useful if the person buying or selling happens to define those terms exactly the same way you do. There really is no definition of "shwag", and the same names are often applied to vastly different strains of cannabis.

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  31. Up here in Ontario, you can buy an ounce of good pot for $160. You can pay more for particular strains, but the standard rate for hydro is $160, $200 tops, in all urban markets.

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  32. I'd be interested to see the Retail MJ price map overlaid on the Racist Hate Tweet map. That might explain a lot!

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