Manitoba marijuana users say ‘astronomical’ price of legal weed is a deterrent

Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

Canadians have been able to legally buy recreational marijuana for six months, but some say the prices are still too high.

“It’s basically three times the price,” said Taylor, whose identity Global News is protecting. “The price is the biggest factor for me right now.”

For nearly three years, Taylor has been purchasing her weed illegally through an online site in British Columbia to help her calm her anxiety.

But on Oct. 17, like hundreds of Manitobans, she lined up outside the first legal cannabis dispensaries in Winnipeg to buy her weed.

“I wanted to be a part of it on the first day,” she said. “I was very disappointed when I walked in and they had very little selection and the prices were two to three times higher than what I paid for it online.”

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READ MORE: Manitoba facing some of highest-rising pot prices in Canada

Last week, Statistics Canada said the average cost of a gram of dried cannabis had gone up by more than 17 per cent since legalization.

Manitoba saw the second-largest post-legalization price hike with an increase of 27.7 per cent to an average of $9.14 per gram.

Taylor said it’s on par with what she has paid over the past few months in stores.

“The other day I bought one pre-rolled joint that was $10 for half a gram versus you can usually get $10 for a full gram,” she said.

On top of the price, Taylor said the lack of selection and excessive packaging are two other reasons she finds the online black market a better option compared to legal store fronts.

“They don’t have nearly as wide a selection as I would like, the prices I find are astronomical compared to where I order online and the packaging, there’s way too much packaging for such a small amount of product and it’s very wasteful.”

READ MORE: Canada-wide cannabis shortages could last years, producers warn

Lack of product is an issue stores across the country have dealt with continuously over the past few months.

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Provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have all reported varying degrees of shortages.

Just one month after legalization, New Brunswick was forced to temporarily close more than half its stores, while the Quebec Cannabis Corporation was forced to reduce its store hours to four days a week until more products recently became available.

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