Every time I look around at different companies selling CBD flower, I ask why is it so expensive? What is driving up hemp prices for this retailer? I believe almost all CBD products are significantly overpriced but let's take a closer look at flower.
Hemp flower is a lot like cannabis except in one critical way. The THC has been bred out of the plant to only trace amounts. This makes hemp flower federally legal while cannabis remains illegal in the vast majority of the world.
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CBD Hemp Prices
You can buy Italian White Truffles at $100 an ounce or $3.75 a gram. Truffles only grow in specific regions of the world and in very specific circumstances. Most truffles only grow under the roots of hardwood trees that are at least 15 years old. You cannot just start a truffle farm.
You can though start a hemp farm. Hemp loves to grow. It's really hard to mess it up. People worry about things like mold and pollen but that's BS. People growing tomatoes have the same problems but you don't have to buy tomatoes at $2500 a pound.
How do people normally justify insane hemp prices?
Let's go through some of the fake reasons I've heard for insanely high hemp flower prices. Each of these is given as a common excuse but the logic doesn't line up.
1. It's a legal gray area and you have to pay for the risk
As a farmer though, I grow in Oregon. We also get flower from some of our partners also in Oregon. Everything is licensed by the department of agriculture. It's only risky for customers in unfriendly states yet they are the ones paying more. Major national banks are also beginning to work with CBD companies too. The risk is nothing like it was 20 years ago (or even 5 years ago).
2. It's hand trimmed and that's a really labor-intensive process
I sell hand manicured hemp bud (not machine trimmed) from $2 a gram. The labor cost for hand trimming is ~$100 a pound (other people pay less but I believe in fair compensation). That's an extra $0.25 a gram. Trimming really isn't a major factor in hemp prices, and plenty of good hemp flower has a more leafy appearance.
The only cost that could justify it is an indoor operation but I personally believe indoor growing is worse for the environment. Why burn fossil fuels to make light when you have something called the sun?
3. We're small farmers, not big huge companies
Neither am I. This is sort of a copout to say that you cannot grow a high-quality hemp flower for a reasonable price. Hemp prices need to be fair for both farmers and consumers.
Why Hemp is Actually Expensive
1. Lots of middlemen
When you buy hemp flower online, you rarely buy it from the actual farm that grew it. The person selling it to you may not even have a direct connection with the farm. Some stores go through brokers who work with other brokers who actually work with farms. You can see how hemp prices would keep increasing with so many middlemen!
2. Because they can
Right now, there aren't a ton of options for high-quality hemp flower. People charge what hemp prices their customers are willing to pay. As long as a lack competition allows insanely high prices, companies will charge what they can.
The Future of Hemp Prices
My prediction is that you will see hemp prices start to drop very soon and by large margins. I wish companies could take more reasonable profits without being forced to at the risk of losing business but I guess that's not how the world works.
The thing that bugs me most is that most of the CBD market is targeted at people with health problems. No one uses CBD recreationally. These people don't have a ton of money but some companies are straight up robbing them.