During the early 1980s, the cost of marijuana ranged from $350 to $600 a pound. In the first six months of 1996, the cost of one pound of marijuana ranged from $200 to $4,000, though it typically sold for $800 a pound. Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). It is the most abused illegal drug in this country. All forms of cannabis are mind-altering (psychoactive) drugs and they all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. There are about 400 chemicals in a cannabis plant, but THC is the one chemical that affects the brain the most.
The cost of marijuana, specifically sinsemilla, the unpollinated flowering tops of the female plant with an inherently higher THC content, ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 per pound over a decade ago. Through mid-1996, the cost of marijuana ranged from $700 to $8,000 per pound, though the sale price typically did not fall below $1,300 per pound.
The cost of marijuana per pound varies considerably, depending on consumer proximity to the Mexican border and quantity purchased. From the mid-1990s to the present, prices for commercial-grade Mexican marijuana remained relatively stable. There are many different names for marijuana. Slang terms for drugs change quickly, and they vary from one part of the country to another. They may even differ across sections of a large city. There are also street names for different strains or "brands" of marijuana, such as "Texas tea," "Maui wowie," and "Chronic." A recent book of American slang lists more than 200 terms for various kinds of marijuana.
On average, marijuana can be purchased in Mexico for approximately between $100 and $200 per kilogram. In DEA Field Divisions along the U.S. Southwest Border, Mexican marijuana sells for approximately between $400 and $1,000 per pound. In Border District Offices, the cost is even lower; the McAllen, Texas, office reports wholesale cost of marijuana from $150 to $300 per pound.
In the Midwest and Northeast, the average cost of marijuana increases to $700 - $2,000 per pound. Using low-end figures, 500 pounds of marijuana can be purchased in Juarez, Mexico for $50,000 and sold in St. Louis, Missouri, for $400,000. As marijuana is purchased closer to the cultivation sites in Mexico and sold to U.S. consumers at greater distances from the U.S. Southwest Border, the profit margin increases significantly.
In 1998, Americans spent $66 billion on these drugs. $11 billion of it was on marijuana. Between 1989 and 1998, expenditure on marijuana increased slightly (as marijuana prices increased) then decreased slightly (as marijuana prices fell).
The cost of marijuana fluctuates greatly showing wide variation by country of origin. Using wholesale costs per pound and mid-1991 costs, the cost of marijuana of Mexican origin varied between $350 and $1600. For Colombian marijuana, this figure was $800 to $1,000 and for marijuana from Thailand, the cost of marijuana ranged from $2,000 to $3,000 per pound. Jamaican marijuana brought $1,500 to $2,000 per pound for commercial grade and $2,000-$3,000 for sinsemilla. It is estimated that United States consumers of marijuana spent $9 billion in 1990.