Last week, the FBI busted the Silk Road website, a massive black market that specialized in the anonymous sale of drugs. But a month before the feds shut down the highly secretive network, a computer savvy Australian startup called The Price Geek harvested data on the two most popular items for sale on Silk Road: cocaine and marijuana.
The Price Geek prides itself in being the go-to website to find the price of anything. So, naturally, illicit drugs seemed like a good fit.
Marijuana was — by far — the most popular drug for sale on Silk Road. That’s no surprise, given that 147 million people — about 2.5% of the world’s population — consume cannabis every year, according to the World Health Organization.
Prices on Silk Road were set in bitcoins — digital currency that’s hard to trace. For simplicity, we’ve converted them to their value in today’s U.S. dollars.
Here are some key insights on weed:
- Of the most popular nations, it’s cheapest in South Africa.
- It’s most expensive in Germany, but Poland and Australia are close behind.
- It’s relatively affordable in the United States.
Why the stark difference? It’s still deemed illegal by most governments, but enforcement — and priced-in risk to dealers — differs greatly by country. Marijuana has been decriminalized in just a few regions, such as the Netherlands. But legalized pot only exists in only two locations: Colorado and Washington (though it remains a federal crime in the United States).
Silk Road prices were listed per gram. For perspective, someone who consumes cannabison a daily basis might smoke or ingest about 1.8 grams each week. Here’s what that pot habit would cost per week:
- Germany: $40
- Poland: $39
- Australia: $39
- United Kingdom: $35
- Netherlands: $34
- Czech Republic: $32
- United States: $27
- Canada: $20