Price of getting high too much for some Sask. pot shoppers

It was the burning question for Saskatchewan residents eager to mark the legalization of cannabis with a purchase: how much?

With a lack of supply leaving Saskatoon and Regina shops unable to open their doors on Oct. 17, residents travelled to neighbouring communities to satisfy their curiosity — and their cravings.

But for Connie Alderson, the $18.99 price tag for one gram of was too much.

"Oh, they're high compared to what you get off the street, for sure," said Alderson, at the Eden store in the RM of Edenwold, about 30 kilometres northeast of Regina.

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"They're almost double. It looks good and smells good, but you could probably get that off the street just as easy and cheap."

The Kronau, Sask., woman said she used to use marijuana but quit because she was concerned about the way street product is produced.

How much? 

Prices at Eden started at about $18.99 per gram, while prices at Jimmy's Cannabis Shop in Martensville, near Saskatoon, were about $13 for the same amount.

Unlike some other provinces, cannabis retailers in Saskatchewan are run by private business owners who can set their own prices. The provincial government regulates the industry.

Prices in Ontario, where the industry is government-run and sales are currently online-only, start at about $8.40. At B.C. government stores the price starts at about $6.99. Cannabis in Quebec will retail from $7 per gram.

Preliminary retail prices in New Brunswick will range from $8-$16 per gram; between $8.21-$14.55 per gram in the Northwest Territories; from $6-$13 in Newfoundland and Labrador; and prices will start at $8 per gram in Yukon.

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Allen Kilback, who owns the Eden store, said his prices are based on demand.

"The market is the market and when there is not a lot of [supply], price goes up and that's just normal business 101," said Kilback.

He predicts the price will drop by about 10-20 per cent as the market settles, but said his experience with the industry so far has taught him to take it "day by day."

Demand is so high the shop is working to secure more stock before the end of the week, Kilback added.

Price is OK, say some shoppers

Joshua Lys wasn't deterred by the current price, leaving Eden with a $280 bundle of marijuana, including varieties called B.C. Diesel, Pink Kush and Alien Dog.

"[It's] a little much, but right now it makes a bit of sense [that] with the limited amount of stock, it will be a bit pricey," said Lys.

"I prefer to see any of the money that I have go to a business that has actually put in the effort to build a business."

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The Pot Shack in Saskatoon wasn't able to open in time for the first day of legalized cannabis due to lack of supply, but owner Geoff Cann estimated a lower starting price when the store does open.

"The cheapest, I would say, would range between … maybe $8 to $10 a gram," said Cann.

"Then you're running into your good, better, best, and then supremely awesome cannabis, which probably will take you up to $20-25 a gram or more."    

'Too expensive'

At Eden, Connie Alderson said she is content waiting for the market to settle down before she makes any purchases.

She left Eden empty-handed after seeing how much the newly regulated product is selling for.

"Too expensive. We'll wait and see if the price comes down. Maybe once more stores open they'll be cheaper," she said.

"It's the only one open now [in the area] so you're kind of stuck with it if you want it."

With files from CBC's Stephanie Taylor.