Pot prices higher than ever after legalization

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Numbers released this week by Statistics Canada say cannabis prices have risen an average of 17 per cent since last October.

In Nova Scotia, the average price -- legal or black market -- went from $7.29 to $8.73 per gram, up 19.7 per cent.

The biggest change was in New Brunswick, up an average of 30.5 per cent, while the lowest change was in British Columbia, with an increase of just 3.7 per cent.

The numbers are based on consumer submissions to Statistics Canada since legalization.

Halifax marijuana advocate Melanie Stephen says she's not surprised, given the way the government chose to roll out legalization.

"It was done so hastily, without any thought," Stephen tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

She says that a combination of supply shortages and high prices have boosted illegal sales.

"The black market is thriving, contrary to what their game plan was," Stephen says.

A lot of consumers have had the same black market provider for years, even decades.

"They're giving them quality, and whenever they want the product it's available, and the price is stabilized," Stephen says. "Why would they go the legal route, where they're paying more?"

Many advocates like Stephen believe the government should allow more private dispensaries to remain open.

"These folks have a lot of experience, they know the product inside out, and they would be able to offer one-on-one counselling for people that might have specific concerns," she says.

But Stephen hopes the federal election in the fall will change legislation going forward.

"Even with Doug Ford allowing dispensaries to operate, that's a good first step in my view," she says.

This coming October -- one year after the first wave of legalization -- edible marijuana products like candies, baked goods, and pot-infused beverages will become legal.

"There are businesses chomping at the bit to get into the edibles," Stephen says. "But really they have to be more methodical about this, and they have to do some more research."

Her business, Stephen Health Agency, sells hemp products that contain no THC - the chemical in cannabis that gets people high.

Although Stephen was approached to create a THC-infused gummy candy, she says they are sticking with hemp for now.

"This isn't at all what people that believed in the ending of prohibition envisioned it to be," she says.
"To have it available on a mass market basis, that's when you're opening Pandora's box," Stephen says, noting the increasing number of reports of children and pets ingesting marijuana accidentally.

With the haste to legalize, Stephen says a lot of issues that long-term cannabis advocates argue for have been overlooked.

"This isn't at all what people that believed in the ending of prohibition envisioned it to be," she says.

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