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Dealer Vs. Dispensary: Who Is Cheaper?

by Contributing Author

There are now many places in which Cannabis has been legalized. While some states have a lot more restrictions than others, there is no doubt that legal Cannabis is more widely available than ever. For years, some people have said that Marijuana legalization would put the dealers out of business. This old joke has turned out to be quite incorrect, as dealers continue to operate in weed-legal states to this day. So, which of these is the more cost-effective option? Let’s consider that carefully.

Which Way Is Cheaper?

We can tell you immediately that a street dealer is probably going to be the cheaper option. There may be some other downsides (like the risk of going to jail), but this fact still remains. This is partly because dealers don’t have to worry about the overhead costs of running a brick-and-mortar shop. They also don’t pay taxes and have no regulatory costs. Thus, because they are paying less money out themselves, they can pass that savings to the customer.

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Dealer Prices

Let’s see just how big the difference in a gram of hemp flower tends to be. In most cases, street dealers will offer one or two grades of Cannabis. The lower-grade stuff is usually referred to as “Reggie.” This just means it’s a “regular” grade, hence the name. That stuff will normally sell for $100-150 per ounce, which means you are paying anywhere from $3.57 to $5.35 per gram. Needless to say, this is the best choice for those on a budget.

The other kind of Cannabis offered by dealers is the high-grade stuff. They will usually call it “Chron” or “Funk” or something like that. High-grade stuff can often be distinguished by its particular smell, which derives from its freshness. “Reggie” has probably been sitting in a Mexican warehouse for a while, so it will have lost a little bit of its taste, smell, and potency. “Chron” normally sells for $10-$20 per gram, although you can bring that price down a little bit by buying in bulk. It is common for people to pay $280-$350 per ounce.

Dispensary Prices

Dispensary Prices are a little bit harder to pin down, as they will vary an awful lot. Sometimes, two nearby dispensaries will have wildly different prices, even if they are right down the street from one another. This is because the legal market simply isn’t as consistent. Street prices remain relatively consistent because they are commonly known and commonly accepted. There is no such consensus when it comes to the legal weed industry. If the dispensary is paying more for their Cannabis, they will have to charge you more as a result.

To give you a more specific idea, let’s look at some example prices. There are several websites that categorize the products as following:

  • 2.8 grams (assorted strains) for $36 = $12.85 per gram
  • 2.8 grams of shake (loose, powdery, lower-grade Cannabis) for $20 = $7.14 per gram
  • 2.8 grams of Durban for $32 = 11.4 per gram

Bear in mind that these are minimal prices. Thus, you will probably be paying a little more than this if you want a high-quality product. Because they have included shake on the list, we can see that the low-cost options are not likely to be very good. By contrast, a street dealer usually won’t even sell shake, as doing so would hurt their reputation. So, if we compare these prices to those of “Reggie” weed, the dealer is the cheaper option by far.

Let’s look at the high-grade options now. In this department, the dispensary option turns out to be a little better. You can find many dispensaries in Colorado offers high-grade strains like GSC and Diesel for roughly $8-$9 per gram. Thus, the dispensary option gets an unexpected win here.

The Importance Of Grade In Pricing

Naturally, the collectibles market doesn’t have much in common with the Cannabis market. However, one common thread is the importance of grading. High-quality Cannabis is always going to be more expensive, so you should expect as much. Low-quality Cannabis, on the other hand, is likely to be a lot less potent. As a result, you will have to use a larger amount to get the effects, and that means you are losing some of that money you saved by going cheap.

You might actually want to go with lower-grade Cannabis if you are planning to use it for the making of extracts. If the price is cheap enough, it can be cost-effective to use low-potency flowers for that kind of thing. On the other hand, when you buy the high-dollar stuff, you want to make sure that its’ quality and potency are matched with the price tag. In all cases, you should start by making a “sample buy.” You simply get a small amount of the chosen product and see if it meets your standards. Remember that there are plenty of dispensaries and dealers out there, so you can afford to be picky.


Overall, we have to say that our initial assumption was partly wrong. We thought that the dealer option would surely be cheaper for all the reasons listed above. When it comes to the low end of the price spectrum, that was indeed correct. However, if you are trying to get a higher grade, a dispensary might be a cheaper way to go. Thus, it all comes down to a comparison of cost and quality, regardless of which path you choose.



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