Marijuana may be federally illegal in the United States, but 37 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico have legalized it for medical use. In many of these states, recreational use is also permitted. Of course, Canada also has fully legal recreational weed, which may come with caveats depending on the territory you live in. Over in Europe, several nations have legalized medicinal marijuana, including Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
Those in Britain are not so fortunate. Although medical weed was recently legalized, it is only available to those with exceptional medical needs. What’s more, it remains difficult to come by even with a prescription. On the plus side, cannabis was recently reclassified as a Schedule 2 drug in Britain.
Britain’s Love for Marijuana
Fascinatingly, Britain is the world’s largest producer of legal marijuana for medical and scientific research; an incredible 95 tonnes were produced in 2016, for example. The UK is also the world’s biggest cannabis exporter. Even though it is illegal, Home Office data from 2016 shows that 6.5% of British adults aged 16-59 admitted using cannabis in the last year.
As of January 2022, approximately 36% of British adults aged 25-49 support full legalization of cannabis and other soft drugs. One 2018 survey even suggested that 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds supported legalization.
Currently, cannabis is a Class B drug, which means possession could result in a five-year prison term and an unlimited fine. The sale of weed is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
As a result, UK marijuana users are forced to the black market to purchase their herb from street dealers. As there is no standardized pricing model, the price of weed varies significantly across Britain, as we show in this guide.
The Cost of Weed: Stay Away from the Shetland Islands!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, London is the most expensive city for weed users. It costs a minimum of £6.44 per gram, just ahead of Glasgow at £6.06 and Birmingham at £6.01. It costs £22.54 per eighth in London. Below are how six other cities compare.
Price per eighth (1/8) in 6 major UK cities:
- Glasgow: £21.21
- Birmingham: £21
- Edinburgh: £20.62
- Liverpool: £19.46
- Manchester: £19.32
- Leeds: £18.80
Understanding Current UK Marijuana Street Prices
If you happen to live in the Shetland Islands, marijuana is incredibly expensive. According to UK forums, users from this group of islands can pay up to £800 for an ounce of weed! Shetland is located over 100 miles (160km) from the Scottish mainland; the combination of its remote location and weed’s illegal status mean weed can be almost as expensive as gold.
The price of marijuana in the UK compares favorably with other nations where the herb is illegal.
Far East Asia is by far the most expensive location for marijuana in the world. The primary reason is lack of supply due to severe penalties associated with marijuana use. In Tokyo, weed costs almost £23 per gram, and it’s still over £20 in Seoul and Kyoto.
At the other end of the scale, Quito in Ecuador is the cheapest capital city in the world for weed; it costs just £0.94 per gram! In other terms, it’s less than $40 for an ounce. Cannabis is just $1.54 per gram in Bogotá, while it costs $2.65 for a gram in Jakarta. By the way, in Indonesia, cannabis is a Group 1 drug, which means you could receive the death penalty for trafficking.
For the record, cannabis is approximately £2.94 per gram in Montevideo, Uruguay, where it is legal for recreational use.
Will Marijuana Be Legalized Recreationally in the UK?
It is highly unlikely that marijuana will become legal in the UK in the foreseeable future. For now, it is limited to individuals with specific conditions such as epilepsy.
Britain recently broke from the European Union (EU), and it has troubling times ahead with a recession likely in the years after Brexit. It will take years, possibly decades, for trade agreements to be brokered between Britain and countries like the US. In the meantime, legalizing weed medicinally could help fund the besieged National Health Service (NHS).
In June 2018, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) released a report showing that the UK’s cannabis black market was worth £2.6 billion annually. This included 225 tonnes of weed sold to over 3 million Britons. The report states that licensed sales of weed would result in better-regulated cannabis to eliminate the dangerous strains currently polluting the landscape.
More on Marijuana Legalization in the UK
The IEA also stated that cannabis regulation should fit between alcohol and tobacco in terms of strictness. It should only be sold to adults aged 18+, similarly to alcohol in the UK. Assuming licensed marijuana constituted 95% of the market, with a VAT of 20% and an excise tax of 30%, it would produce almost £700 million in revenue. The growth in business and new employment would add an extra £300 million a year.
What’s more, the UK government would also save around £300 million a year in reduced policing and judicial costs.
Several nations around the world are contemplating following suit with Canada and legalizing cannabis. The UK will likely be watching these countries closely as it weighs up a decision faced with increasing pressure from the public.
Contrary to what you may think, legalization may increase the price of herb in the UK. However, it would also increase safety and quality, which is what a lot of users care about.
Final Thoughts on the Cost of Weed in the UK
As is usually the case, the cost of cannabis varies greatly from one part of the UK to the next. However, it still typically remains more affordable than the price per ounce in the United States. This remains the case even if marijuana laws in the United Kingdom are generally stricter. We hope that the UK can embrace the legalization of cannabis in the years to come. Cannabis could be a means to improve a hurting economy. Additionally, it could provide individuals in need with this alternative, green medicine.