How much do you pay for weed? The feds want to know

Click to play video: 'How much do you pay for weed? Ottawa wants to know' How much do you pay for weed? Ottawa wants to know
WATCH ABOVE: Ottawa is asking Canadians how much they pay for pot and the answers could help determine the regulated price once the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal. Kendra Slugoski reports – Jan 31, 2018

A survey from Statistics Canada, aiming to crowdsource the price of pot, has already heard from more than 5,500 Canadians as of Wednesday.

Under the headline Crowdsourcing – Cannabis, the survey reads, “Statistics Canada needs your help collecting cannabis prices. Tell us about your last purchase of dried cannabis – submissions are anonymous!”

The survey launched on Thursday, with Stats Can saying it’s the first time it has used crowdsourcing to collect information about marijuana. Previous price data was sourced online from various cannabis websites.

“Because this is still an illegal substance, it’s very difficult to get information, so we’re looking to go right to the source and ask people who are the users to help us out with this,”

Conrad Barber-Dueck, a chief economist with  Statistics Canada, said. So far, about 400 respondents have indicated they are from Alberta.

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The federal agency pledges your input will be anonymous.

“We do not collect any information that can identify responses (such as age, gender etc…),” Director General James Tebrake explained in an email to Global News. He added the agency is not collecting IP addresses or geo-locating respondents.

READ MORE:  Statistics Canada crowdsourcing info for government pot prices

The survey asks respondents to fill in the price paid and the quantity, as well as the quality — a drop-down menu gives choices of low, medium or high.  It also asks the reason for the purchase, with three options to choose from: recreational, or medical — with or without a medical document.

Respondents are also asked where the pot was purchased.  All fields must be filled in in order to submit the survey.

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The call for input comes as the federal government moves to set the price of pot, up against the backdrop of competing with the black market. Legalization could set off an economic ripple effect, including a drastic effect on the GDP. Right now, cannabis is not part of those calculations.

“If we suddenly add what could be upwards of $5 billion to the GDP, it would look like suddenly our economy had grown very quickly. But, in fact, that’s not the case because all of this consumption and production is already occurring, so we want to kind of have a before and after of legalization day,” Barber-Dueck said.

READ MORE:  Canadians could pay at least $1 per gram in weed tax, plus GST: Feds

There is no end date yet for the survey, but Stats Can says it plans to release some results on Friday.

The survey is leading to some online joking.

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given posted a link to the survey on his Facebook page. He included a link to the federal survey, but one follower responded, with “10/g.”

The mayor was quick to reply: “Don’t tell me… do the survey.”

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A link on the survey expands on the right to privacy, saying, “Statistics Canada is prohibited from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent, or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada will use the information for statistical purposes only.”

Legalizing cannabis looks to be good for government coffers.

READ MORE: Ottawa agrees to give provinces 75% of marijuana tax revenue

The latest economic analysis from ATB Financial predicts marijuana use is even higher than current numbers show. Citing figures from Stats Can, ATB compares $22 billion in sales for wine, beer and spirits in 2016, with $16 billion for tobacco that same year.

By contrast, marijuana sales (medicinal and recreational) amounted to almost $6 billion in 2017, less than a third of alcohol. ATB’s Economics and Research Team says right now, cannabis sales may seem small compared to alcohol or tobacco – but there’s a reason for that: those sectors are regulated.

“There’s a good chance consumption of cannabis is even higher than the figures show,” reads the post on ATB’s The Owl newsletter.

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