Connecticut residents who may have previously traveled to Massachusetts to purchase marijuana may find Connecticut’s new recreational cannabis market a little on the expensive side, according to a comparison of prices online and state data.
To do a comparison, Connecticut Inside Investigator looked at the prices for 1/8 ounce of cannabis flower – the most commonly available amount for purchase in Connecticut – from dispensaries that have locations in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, like Curaleaf and Fine Fettle.
Comparing Curaleaf’s Hartford store with the store they maintain in Oxford, Massachusetts, there was a 24 percent price difference, with Connecticut buyers paying an average of $43.86 and Massachusetts buyers paying an average of $35.26.
Connecticut and Massachusetts tax cannabis differently but adding taxes into the mix only increased the price differential by roughly 3 percent, meaning most of the price difference comes from the price of the product itself.
Interestingly, Fine Fettle’s locations in Newington, Connecticut and Rowley, Massachusetts, however, revealed a much smaller differential in prices, with their Connecticut location showing an average price of $43.94 and their Massachusetts location slightly higher at $44.41.
But that was just limited to two stores. When looking at total average retail sale prices between the two states, Connecticut’s markup is a whopping 88 percent difference.
According to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s (DCP) figures there was an average product price of $44.61 in January and $41.82 in February, roughly in line with the price of flower at both Curaleaf and Fine Fettle. DCP’s average price, however, includes all products including edibles and vapes.
According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, an average price for 1/8 ounce, or 3.5 grams of flower, in Massachusetts averaged $23.24 in March 2023, 88 percent less than the figures calculated for the same amount of flower in Connecticut at Curaleaf and Fine Fettle and prices in Connecticut generally.
Reached for comment, Stephanie Cunha, Curaleaf’s regional director for public relations, said the comparison is not “apples to apples” because Massachusetts is a “mature market.”
“Market price differentiation is not unique to the cannabis industry. Product pricing in any industry can vary per market based on labor costs, real estate pricing, taxes, costs of operation, product availability and pressure from other competitors,” Cunha said. “In cannabis pricing is also impacted by licensing dynamics and state wide cultivation capacity.”
Massachusetts certainly has a hefty head start on Connecticut, having legalized cannabis for recreational purchase in 2016 before shops began opening in 2018. Today the state has 387 licensed retailers, 296 cultivators and 225 manufacturers, with more on the way, and the industry now accounts for $1.4 billion per year.
The average price for a gram of flower in Massachusetts fell from $14.23 in March of 2021 to $6.64 in March of 2023, prompting some to worry the market in Massachusetts may have reached its saturation point.
“Massachusetts is a mature market with a higher number of dispensaries and suppliers overall, and our overall production costs are lower in that state,” Cunha said.
Connecticut’s market, now in its infancy, has a long way to go before having a similar problem. The adult use market in Connecticut saw $7 million in sales in February of 2023, compared to $114.8 million in Massachusetts, and Connecticut has limited how many licenses it allows for cultivation, manufacturing, delivery and sales.
And as more retailers, cultivators and manufacturers open for business in Connecticut, the prices customers pay will likely begin to decrease.
According to the latest data, average adult use retail prices have decreased from $44.25 in January to $39.96 in the last week of February, a 9.6 percent decrease in just two months but whether that becomes a trend remains to be seen.
According to a report by the Brightfield Group, which analyzes cannabis market data, Massachusetts saw cannabis sales increase 11 percent year over year, totaling $250 per adult resident, “solidifying its status as a mature cannabis market.”
“While prices saw a large drop in the process, the more affordable goods now on sale should help draw in new and legacy consumers who were turned off by the high cost of entry,” wrote Matt Zehner.