It’s High Times uptown these days, as five Columbia University students/fratboys were busted this week for selling all kinds of crazy drugs at school. Ivy League? More like High-vy League. Luckily, via Columbia’s BWOG, understanding the numbers of the busts also gives us a chance to understand how much drugs cost at Columbia! It goes without saying, but The Village Voice, Village Voice Media, and Runnin’ Scared do not endorse the illegal use or purchase of drugs, and no drugs were harmed purchased or used in the making of this blog post. So, how much does marijuana cost at Columbia University?
The Marijuana (“Weed, Bud, Dank, Pot, Greens, Sticky Icky, The Scheezy, Herb, Green, Mary Jane, Chronic, Bubonic Chronic, Ganga, ‘Dro, The Doober, Grass, etc”) Bust: 2 ½ lbs at $7,900.
In the immortal words of Cypress Hill: “Hits from the boonnnnnggggg.” Anywhere else in America, the prices of high-quality marijuana (or “Chronic”) generally go:
In New York City, however, the price of good marijuana generally gets jacked up. The price scales remain the same, but most dealers won’t sell grams, and if they do, they’re selling them for $30, and they’re selling “eighths” for $50 at around three to 3.2 grams at the most. Two factors are involved in this:
1. Good marijuana in New York City is either brought in from better growing climates (which puts suppliers in the position of having to move drugs across state lines or the Canadian border, and an additional trafficking charge) or growing it themselves, in their own homes, with hydroponic kits (which are slightly more difficult to abandon/prove isn’t a grower’s in the event they’re raided).
2. Most dealers in New York City use small, plastic boxes instead of baggies to move their weed: they cover up the smell more than baggies, and they also only fit so much (i.e. less than an eighth), and “flat” numbers ($50s, $100s) are standard drug purchasing rates. So they just charge the same and give less.
Yet: One pound is 16 ounces, so 2 ½ lbs = 40 ounces = 320 “eighths.” But 320 “eighths” sold at $50 an eighth — standard prices — would be $16,000, and that’s with each $50 being the above-standard-for-New-York-City rate of 3.5 grams per $50. These guys only made $7,900 from cops. If they moved $7,900 in eighths, they would have only been selling at a little under $25/eighth. What happened?
Well, one possibility is that their weed was god awful, but that’s doubtful, because (A) It’s Columbia and (B) a risk-benefit analysis of selling drugs is already incredibly heavy on risk in the lower quadrants of the drug trade — if you read Freakonomics or watched The Wire, you’re likely already familiar with this idea — so why bother with “sticks and seeds” only purchased by the cheapest of drug consumers, anyway? It’s most likely (C) a combination of reasons.
The market for marijuana — easily the most popular illegal recreational drug in America — is hyper-competitive everywhere, especially in New York City, where dealers are known to give “loyalty bonuses.” We’ve even heard of one delivery service in New York City using punch-cards in the same way, say, City Bakery does. And just like national retail stores, the more merchandise retailers move and the larger the size of the operation, the more competitive they can make their prices. $8100 divided into $100 purchases is 81 units, or in $50 purchases, 162 units. That number could represent the inventory that was discounted, which would have them almost promoting a buy-one-get-one-free rate, which is both insane and unrealistic.
The even more likely scenario is that the cops were buying in bulk from the students — something less likely to raise eyebrows, because it’s weed — with the “intent” to sell some off themselves. Even in that scenario, the marijuana at Columbia is cheap: Anywhere else, a pound is around $4,000 to $5,000. These guys sold 2 ½ lbs for $7,900 at an average rate of $3,160/pound. Which means they were probably trying to unload the hell out of it to get it off their hands — and breaking a little more than even, especially when they dip into their own stashes — or just giving crazy discounts to friends/frat brothers, maybe even in order to get them buying better (and higher profit-yielding) drugs, which as we already know, they were also indeed selling.
Street Price: $25 an eighth-ish. $3,160 a pound.
Value: Like a Wal-Mart for weed. Maybe even Sam’s Club.
Caveat That Bears Repeating: When you’re in college, you have time to hit the bong at least six times a day and still pass all of your classes. Maybe even more. So the prices you see are probably skewed by copious amounts of “dipping into” one’s own “supply.”
Underrated Rap Song About Marijuana: Crucial Conflict’s “Hay.”
Sir Smoke-a-Lot: Gets me every time.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 8, 2010