The price isn’t right for legal pot says consumer group

(© Can Stock Photo / Lecaro)

“It’s time to re-evaluate the taxes on cannabis,” according to a Toronto-based North American consumer affairs group.

The Consumer Choice Center said the growing gap in price between legal cannabis and illegal pot shows that it’s time to re-evaluate cannabis taxes.

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada released data on the price differences between illegal and legal cannabis. It found that over the past three months, the price of a gram of cannabis bought illegally has fallen from $6.23 to $5.93 but over that same time, the average price of a gram of legally purchased cannabis rose from $10.21 to $10.65.

“The data from StatsCan is troubling, because it shows that the legal market is getting less competitive over time,” said David Clement, manager of the Consumer Choice Center.

He said there are some simple solutions that could be enacted to help the legal market compete when it comes to price. Clement said the federal government could get rid of the minimum tax amount, and simply tax cannabis on its wholesale value, which would immediately allow for discount products to hit the shelves and decrease prices. He added the government could also change production regulations to make the industry more dynamic. Clement said shifting production regulations to be in line with food-grade rules, as opposed to pharmaceutical-grade restrictions, would go a long way in terms of reducing costs, which are passed down to consumers through lower prices.

The former CEO of Aphria Cannabis in Leamington predicted the day cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, that the price of pot could drop in the future because of over-supply. If his projections are correct, Neufeld said licenced marijuana producers in Canada will be growing three times what Canadians need by the end of this year and that will decrease the price of weed.

Legal pot in Ontario has also had some problems with recalls because of moldy product.