How Do Cops Come Up With Marijuana’s Street Value?

By Johnny Green



We have all seen the headlines – ‘Cops find X amount of marijuana worth (insert outlandish number).’ If you are like me, whenever you see a marijuana bust story come out, you feel sad for a bit, then jump to the part of the story where it lists how much the confiscated marijuana was estimated to be worth. Cops try to jack those numbers up as large as possible in order to make the general public feel like they are actually doing worthwhile work instead of enforcing a failed, racist public policy.


Marijuana consumers know exactly how much marijuana costs. I am a medical marijuana patient in Oregon, which allows me to legally purchase medical marijuana from another Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) member, which I have found to be the cheapest way to purchase quality marijuana where I live. I would guess that cops would consider that to be a ‘street level purchase’ because I didn’t buy it from a dispensary. The most recent ounce I bought was $80 (Platinum Girl Scout Cookies, it was fire!).

That is pretty standard on the West Coast, at least in my circles. Some non-dispensary ounces go for $100-125. Anything above $125 usually results in some questions and head scratching by the purchaser. That same ounce at a West Coast dispensary could go for between $180-$300. The higher the price, the slower it moves, even when it’s the best of the best. I will pay top dollar for the best marijuana around, but only one or two grams at a time.

With that in mind, it was a bit mind blowing to read a recent story in which someone donated a tote to a Goodwill in Washington with almost four pounds of marijuana in it, with the marijuana’s street value being estimated to be a crazy amount. Per KTLA:

Police are investigating after bags filled with marijuana were found in a cooler donated to a Goodwill store in Monroe, Washington, over the weekend.

“(The) employees were surprised when they opened the lid,” the Monroe Police Department tweeted on Tuesday. They then called police. 

Investigators said the cooler contained approximately 3.75 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $24,000, KTLA sister station KCPQ in Seattle reported.

If you haven’t broken it down yet, that works out to $6,400 per pound. In 2017. On the West Coast. A quick Google search of other busts include a roughly $3,000 per pound estimate in Alabama and a $5,000 per pound estimate in New Jersey. They didn’t show a picture of the marijuana from New Jersey, but the did for the marijuana found in Monroe, Washington and the Alabama bust, and the Monroe weed looked like garbage. The Alabama weed looked decent enough.

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Police Dept in Monroe Washington with a cooler of marijuana that was donated to Goodwill. Image: Monroe Police Facebook page

I have never been to Alabama or New Jersey, so I don’t know if those prices are accurate, but $3,000 per pound in Alabama sounds reasonable. $6,4000 per pound in Washington does not. The weed donated in Monroe would carry a price tag of roughly $14 per gram, which is not unheard of at a dispensary. However, even dispensaries give price cuts for ounces of marijuana, so putting a price tag on marijuana that is based off of the highest per gram calculation possible is unrealistic. It’s ridiculous for cops to inflate street value prices of marijuana when it involves a bust, as they are clearly doing it in an attempt to make headlines. I’m assuming that is also the case with the donated Goodwill weed. To be fair, it worked, because that story is everywhere. But as with the Monroe story, and most stories revolving around the street value of marijuana, take a tip from Flavor Flav and don’t believe the hype!

How much does marijuana cost where you live? Place your comments below, keep the conversation civil, and under no circumstances try to sell marijuana in our comments section. You will be deleted and banned, no exceptions!

Originally appeared at

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4 thoughts on “How Do Cops Come Up With Marijuana’s Street Value?

  • 03/18/2017 at 8:23 pm

    When are they going to stop saying “street value” and start saying “retail value”?

  • 03/19/2017 at 3:04 am

    RVA has a point. That leads to another point. Everyone knows that wholesale prices are lower than retail prices. Both on the street (black-market) and in the aboveground market. There are ‘taxes’ on both the legal and black-market sales. Legal taxes on legal cannabis sold through legal stores, which goes to the federal, state & local coffers. Then there’s the black market ‘prohibition tax’, or ‘risk tax’, which hasn’t gone up in years. There have been $10 grams of good cannabis for the last 25 years and the cannabis has only become more potent over that period of time. Which tends to keep the black market cannabis sales a better deal than in the stores or dispensaries. Since the first of the year, I’ve seen prices going up in both the recreational stores and in medical dispensaries due to the separation of the legal recreational market from the legal medical market. Part of that is due to shortages of product caused by changes in lab testing. Meanwhile, black market cannabis prices are going down some, because there’s no bloody 23% sales tax on recreational purchases, and there’s still a lot of bargain hunters out there who will happily pay $10 a gram for killer bud, but will pay no sales tax. That same $10 bud will run at least $12.30 in retail stores after tax. That adds up. And it’s the taxes that add up, not the prices the labs charge for testing, which for most labs, is pennies per gram, a negligible cost addition.
    I’ve run across people who buy their cannabis a couple grams a day, $10/gm, on the black market. They could get more for less by buying a $30 eighth, but they don’t see that. I’ve also found people paying $225 for a ounce of 24% THC Indica, on the black market. The same cannabis through a dispensary would run at least $250, if not $280 or more. A recreational store would have to charge at least 20% for state tax, and likely another 3% for local tax, bringing the ounce up to well over $300.

    I would venture a guess that different areas of the state will have prices for cannabis that can vary quite a bit. Wholesale vs. Retail. Indoor vs. Outdoor. Organic vs. chemical feeding. Methods of processing. Labor costs. Legal vs. black market. All these factors can play a substantial part in the pricing of cannabis.
    I encourage everyone who can to grow their own. There is something quite mystical about growing such a fascinating plant. If you cannot grow your own, then, imho, the best route to go is the more expensive route of buying in a store or dispensary. It shows unity within the cannabis-friendly ‘family’, helps the local economy and jobs market, and the tax revenue provided by legal sales will make it hard for the government to come in and take our cannabis away from us. Anarchists will disagree with me and say grow your own or use the black market; why support with our taxes the society that looks down on cannabinists? There is a certain point to that, but I would say society is changing, more and more swiftly, and cannabis isn’t looked down upon as much as in the past.

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  • 04/07/2017 at 3:17 pm

    Tax is 17-20% on retail cannabis, not 23%. 17% state tax, and an additional up to 3% can be added by local municipalities if approved in a vote by the constituents (every municipality approved it). So it’s essentially 20%, 17% if you’re in certain county areas. Other than that good comment.

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