How Active Price changes with content and delivery method9 min read

I was wondering about how the price for 100mg of THC or CBD changes with delivery method (ie. joint vs pipe vs vaporizer). And how that price change compares with the price change as cannabinoid content decreases.

The narrative is explained below. Here’s what I learned:

Active content price (price per 100mg THC or CBD) increases at the greatest rate as cannabinoid content decreases. The differences in delivery methods as a function of cost have a small affect on costs in comparison to a decrease in cannabinoid content.

At the time of writing, I found the ‘cost’ of delivering 100mg of THC or CBD via a joint was $1.67 more than delivering the same amount of cannabinoids via a vaporizer. I can achieve a similar cost increase ($1.67 per 100mg of THC+CBD) by adjusting total cannabinoid by about -2.5%, suggesting a decrease in cannabinoid content is more ‘costly’ than choosing an inefficient delivery method (for delivering a set amount of cannabinoids, 100mg).


There’s a boulevard in my neighbourhood, its long, maintains a static curvature and is terminated on either end by stop signs. The speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour, and I drive through there most days. As such, I’m faced with a simple decision. Do I want to speed through there everyday, say at 70-80, or do the speed limit?

So I run the numbers on the amount of time I’d save if I did 80, everyday down the road. Turns out, the time I’d save over a year was like 35 minutes, but in order to get that time, I’d have to expose myself to several hours of speeding through a residential zone. So, now I just do 50 through the boulevard and make up the bit of time by speeding elsewhere.

Now, I’m looking to do the same thing with cannabis. Instead of investigating the relationship between distance, velocity and time, we’re going to look at the relationship between price, cannabinoid content and delivery efficiency.

Ultimately, what I’d like to estimate is the cost of using an inefficient delivery method. Specifically, if I have a gram of cannabis rated 15% THC, and I know a joint has less efficient delivery than a vaporizer, how much active content am I losing by using the gram in a joint compared to the vaporizer? And for this article, we don’t really care about the amount in mg of THC or CBD, we’re going to quantify this amount by cost.

And, I’d like to compare the cost we discover with the ‘cost’ of variance in cannabinoid content. So, maybe I know a $12 gram with 25% THC is a ‘better value’ than a $8 gram with 16% THC, but what if I roll the 25% THC gram in a joint? If I choose a less efficient delivery method, does that come at a greater cost to me? Would it be more cost efficient to chose the lesser cannabinoid content and use a better delivery method?

We’ll use my personal purchase data set for this take off, specifically cannabinoid content and price, which I’ll use to calculate the price per mg for either THC or CBD. I’ll loop in efficiency variables for a joint, a pipe and a vaporizer, so we can estimate how these values change with each method. Once we know the change in value, we’ll use the price per mg to quantify the change in dollars. From there, we can start to postulate a few variances in cannabinoid content comparable with the monetary values we calculated.


We’re going to take a look at price per 100mg for all listings included in this dataset (also shown by colour). I’ve just shown them tabulated, they’re kinda fun to look at. I show the average for the group at the top and fun fact; at the time of writing there is a 3.5x difference between the highest and lowest price.

I’m putting this writeup together ad-hoc. So while you were looking at the table, I was looking up accepted joint, pipe, and vaporizer efficiencies, and let me tell you, it gets complex real quick.

Not so much on the vaporizer, it’s the joint/cigarette that causes the trouble. There’s a factor called ‘side smoke’ and some estimates say it can account for a sizeable loss, bringing total THC delivery to less than 25% in some cases. The same article goes on to suggest the Volcano is capable of delivering 60% of the THC in a sample, while a cigarette may deliver 75%. Another resource suggests the Volcano delivered 36-61% THC.

Two quick by-the-ways, here’s an article on a study that measures tar and cannabinoids for different delivery methods, and one that includes blood content information for vaporizing versus combustion. They’re just nice to know, but not on topic.

Here’s the source of the values we’ll use for this take off, it’s a blog post that cites some of the sources we’ve noted above, it should be suitable for our general purposes. I’ll list the summarized values here:

  • Vaporizer 47% average efficiency
  • Joint 23% average efficiency
  • Bong 40.4% average efficiency

We’ll plug those numbers into the model to see how much THC or CBD is deliverable from a gram of each offering I’ve logged. We’ll also check out the cost of 100mg of delivered THC or CBD through each of the delivery methods and for each, the difference from the price for 100mg of potential cannabinoids. Finally, we’ll see the difference in cost between the price of 100mg cannabinoids through vaporization delivery versus a joint.

I’ve left this view specific to the listing level, use the filter to select the specific listings.

Right so, we need a comparable value, let’s step back a few layers and look at the average difference in cost between the price of 100mg cannabinoids through vaporization delivery versus a joint, for any of the offerings included.

Ok now, let’s look into varying cannabinoid content. Like the variance in delivered cannabinoid content, I’ve shown cannabinoid contents from my purchase dataset as actual and then reduced by 5 and 10% THC+CBD content. I also show content increased the opposite way, in the same increments. In the corresponding chart, we’ll look at price per 100mg for the varying contents to see how they change with each increment.

Same as above, I’ve left this view specific to the listing, use the filter to select a specific listing to change the chart.

And just like with the delivery methods, we’ll take the average for all listings to use for comparison. Specifically looking at the drop from the price for the potential 100mg to -5%THC+CBD, and the next drop, from 5% to 10% (which is much larger).

In terms of costs, I think we found that variances in cannabinoid content matter more than delivery method. If the average cost difference between absorbing 100mg of cannabinoids from a vaporizer verses a joint is a bit less than $1.70, it would only take a decrease of about 2.5% THC+CBD to equate to that $1.70.

Lower variances show worse from this perspective, mostly because cannabinoid content is limited, and as the value nears zero, the price you pay for it rises at a greater rate. Similarly, higher variances in cannabinoid content yielded less of a cost upside, an increase of 2.5% THC+CBD wouldn’t yield the $1.70 we observed on the decrease.

Important to note, with combustion, the reactants are used up, or converted to ash and smoke. With a vaporizer, you can run the material multiple times. So I wonder how this model would change with that variable built in, would the vaporizer reach high 90% for delivery efficiency? If that’s the case, the price per 100mg values for vaporizer delivery would fall closer to the potential prices.

The other thing I learned from this write up is the general inefficiency of all delivery methods. The source blog post mentions pyrolysis, which basically means breakdown by heat (fire). While the numbers were appropriate for this general take off, I wonder, if these efficiencies are accurate, a vaporizer that operates at a lower pressure (and therefor a lower heat) could combat the amount of content lost via pyrolysis.

One assumption I’ve made during this write up is that every mg of THC or CBD is absorbed into the blood. I’ll link again to a source that studies the difference in absorption between combustion and vaporizing. We could add these figures into the model to estimate the cost of the cannabinoids that actually make it into the blood, but let’s save it for another day.

I’ll leave it here, I think I’ve found an answer, to a reasonable degree. The charts and averages will update as I purchase and log new offerings. Should I find better numbers for delivery methods, I can always plug them in to see how the price changes. Otherwise, I’ll check back in a few months to see how this changes.

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