B.C. pot prices hit by rising loonie
Underground industry may face downturn as U.S. exports cool
The rising Canadian dollar is affecting different markets — not all of them legal.
At least one watcher of the underground economy says the price of B.C. marijuana has gone up in the United States, and that could mean plummeting demand from Americans in future.
Marc Emery, head of the B.C. Marijuana Party, said there are several factors behind the rising price of B.C.'s most infamous export, including tighter border security and the loonie's steady ascent over the past five years.
Pot selling for $2,200 apound in 2002 would have cost an American only $1,600 because of the differences in the dollar, he said.
"Now the marijuana is at $2,400 Cdn and now it costs $2,400 US to buy it," Emery said. "So for the Americans, Canadian marijuana has gone up by almost 50 per cent," he said.
The well-known marijuana activist is currently fighting an extradition order by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for allegedly selling millions of dollars worth of marijuana seeds to Americans through his mail order business.
But in the town of Nelson, an area some would describe as the heartland of the province's marijuana industry, RCMP Const. Annie Linteau disagreed that B.C.'s underground marijuana export industry may be facing a downturn.
Linteau predicted there is so much money to be made selling pot to the United States that the change in the loonie's value will have little effect.
Zoe Anderson, a clerk at a Nelson store that sells pot pipes, agreed. But she said local consumers in the Southern Interior community wouldn't stand for a big price hike.
"People here are able to access their entertainment and/or medicine of choice at a consistent price," she said, making the point clear as she enjoyed a mid-day puff on some of that local produce.
The value of B.C.'s underground marijuana industry has never been accurately measured, but one study by the Fraser Institute in 2004 put the estimated 17,500 grow operations in the $7 billion range.