Much of the allure of illicit cannabis[1] comes down to price: people buying unlicensed cannabis enjoy prices on average nearly half of those on the legal market[2].

Whether or not you have a preference for the kinds of cannabis produced on the unregulated underground, you nonetheless have a good price incentive to consider it, which is why licensed producers are racing to debut cheaper “value brands,” often in bulk-priced options.

They’ve finally figured out, as one commentator put it, that “Canadian cannabis buyers want mids[3].”

The trend began in October, when Hexo announced the launch of its Original Stash[4] flower blend. With its sights set on legacy-market buyers[5], Hexo packaged Original Stash’s OS.210[6] sativa-hybrid blend (12-18% THC) in 28-gram bags that retailed for $125.70 (tax included) at Quebec crown retailer the Société Québécoise du Cannabis. That price placed Original Stash beneath the national average for illicit cannabis.

Publicly traded cannabis producer Zenabis[7] followed suit in December with the introduction of its Re-Up brand[8] (strains ranging from 7%-20% THC). Available through Cannabis NB, the east coast offering comes in at $5.53 per gram[9] (when purchased a half ounce at a time) with sales tax included.

Acknowledging they’d failed to anticipate a “hard turn” in consumer demand toward value-priced cannabis[10], Aurora abandoned earlier plans to produce very expensive “super-premium” products, and began instead rolling out its bulk-packaged value brand Daily Special[11] (15-21% THC).

Discover value brands in Canada

These are the cheapest cannabis brands in Canada as of March 2020. Prices may vary from province to province and from one retailer to the next.
value brands daily special aurora Dried flower, indica and sativa strains, 15-21% THC. From as low as $69.99/15g ($4.67/g), available in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Find Daily Special near you[13][12]
value brands the batch tilray Dried flower and pre-rolls, 10-16 % THC. From as low as $17.90/3.5g ($5.11/g), available across Canada. Find The Batch near you[15][14]
value brands re-up zenabis Various strains available as dried flower and pre-rolls, ranging from 7%-20% THC. Prices from as low as $37.99/7g ($5.43/g), available in New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia. Find Re-Up near you[17][16]
value brands original stash hexo Various strains, dried flower, 12-18% THC. For sale one ounce at a time from as low as $113.50/28g ($4.05/g), available in Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, and, Newfoundland and Labrador. Find Original Stash near you[19][18]

In coming weeks, Canopy will debut its value brand Twd. (13-25% THC) in one-ounce packaging, and Tilray will expand[20] its value line The Batch[21] (10-16% THC).

As Brock University Professor Michael J. Armstrong recently noted[22], producers only have partial say in the end price of adult-use cannabis.

A large part of cannabis retail prices is decided by provincial wholesale markups, as well as federal and provincial taxes and costs[23]. Though Quebec’s average markup was 23%, Ontario’s was 77%—a difference Armstrong explained reflected Quebec’s prioritizing shutting down the illicit market and Ontario’s hope to derive revenue from cannabis sales.

Not just licensed producers are seeing the light about lower pricing, however. New Brunswick Crown retail monopoly Cannabis NB staggered through so many losses[24] last year the government elected to give up on trying to make it profitable and put the entire monopoly up for sale to a prospective private operator[25].

Early last month, Cannabis NB noted its turn toward lower-price offerings had resulted in a noteworthy increase in revenues. Even at that, however, the crown retailer struggled to keep low-price products in stock.[26][27]

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image

Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse B. Staniforth is the editor of the free cannabis-industry newsletter WeedWeek Canada. He also reports on Indigenous issues, cybersecurity, and food safety.


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