Spotlight: Wholesale Cannabis Prices Crashed in 2018

Departments - Upfront | Sales Trends

Pricing leveled off by Q4 after dramatic declines earlier in the year, indicating steadier prices for 2019.

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May 20, 2019

Prices for greenhouse and outdoor flower deteriorated dramatically in 2018 after a bounteous fall harvest in 2017. Meanwhile, indoor product saw significantly smaller declines in wholesale rates last year, according to data collected by Cannabis Benchmarks.

National quarterly prices in 2018 illustrated the large supplies of greenhouse and outdoor product available in legal cannabis markets. National volume-weighted price for greenhouse products averaged $1,192 per pound in Q1 2018. That dropped by 12 percent to $1,047 per pound in Q2, then fell another 10 percent to $946 per pound in Q3. Outdoor flower saw its going rate average $938 per pound in Q1. It sank 21 percent to $740 per pound in the second quarter, before sliding an additional 6 percent in Q3, to $693 per pound. Both types of sun-grown product saw rates level off in Q4, when greenhouse and outdoor flower averaged $942 and $705 per pound, respectively.

Overall in 2018, annual average prices for greenhouse and outdoor flower saw respective declines of 29 percent and 30 percent compared to 2017’s wholesale averages. The downturns outpaced those of the annual average for indoor flower, which decreased 17 percent in 2018.

Additionally, while rates for indoor product dropped overall last year, weekly prices were observed to stabilize, and in some cases rise, around periods of strong demand (4/20, Labor Day weekend, and the end-of-year holidays). Quarterly prices increased for indoor flower in Q2 and Q4, which was largely due to elevated rates in April and December, respectively. Wholesale rates for greenhouse and outdoor product generally saw little to no respite from their downward trends even when buyers were looking to take in additional supply.

Prices for indoor and greenhouse flower recovered somewhat during Q1 2019. The average prices for both grow types in Q1 2019 were up roughly 3 percent relative to Q4 2018. Meanwhile, outdoor flower’s quarterly average rate for Q1 of this year was down by more than 5 percent from Q4 2018, as another year of good growing conditions on the West Coast led to robust harvests that piled even more inventory onto already ample supplies.

At the end of Q1, national rates for indoor and greenhouse product were up a bit compared to Q4 2018, while the price for outdoor flower has tracked downward slightly.

Adam Koh is the editorial director for Cannabis Benchmarks.