Each year like clock work we pen an article about South Africa’s seasonal weed drought as we’re beginning to enter the outdoor harvest season and that means weed prices will traditionally go up a bit in the short term due to it still being a couple more months until the fresh crop is finally able to hit the streets, eventually satiating demand, while current weed reserves are selling out. Things are however a little different this year and unfortunately not for the better.
Thanks to a record level drought, one of the few things Zuma can’t be blamed for, we are experiencing huge increases in food prices across the board. As a massive local perennial crop, cannabis has not been immune to this. Word on the ground is that plantations that would usually be full of plants a couple of meters tall and oozing with buds now bare feeble resemblance to the dank valleys that they once so densely occupied. “I was out in the fields a few weeks ago and couldn’t believe my eyes. Usually the plants are towering over me with barely enough room to walk between them. Instead they were mostly knee height and had gone through some fucked up re-vegging”. With heatwave after heatwave causing abnormal plant growth and large scale water shortages greatly restricting any hope of many growers still pulling off a decent harvest, growers and consumers alike are certain to feel the pinch.
Couple this with an ever weakening Rand and you are likely to be paying way more for your bud in the months to come, as well as feel the price increase sting of mostly imported paraphernalia due to products such as rolling papers going up by a buck or two and vaporizer prices increasing by a few hundred. With the general all round inflation of just about every food product out there, scraping the cash together for you bankie and blades is certain to be tougher than ever this year. The most recent emerging variable on the market, cannabis concentrates and oils, may see the most noticeable bump in price due to the large volume of raw product involved comprising predominantly of middle to lower grade outdoor grown cannabis. Huge increases in the demand for these processed products among medicinal users this year may see this segment of the market making a bigger dent than ever before in the amount of affordable herb now no longer finding its way to your local dealer.
Some relief may be found when purchasing herb of the indoor variety as chronic growers have fortunately not had to deal with much load shedding of late, hopefully stabilising their production. But I wouldn’t hold my breath that these growers and dealers won’t recognise the supply shortage as an opportunity to hedge their prices as high as possible in light of low availability of middle to low price range weed. However uncertain the exact details are on how high we can expect to see prices rise, it remains to be seen if consumers, faced with the opportunity cost dilemma of choosing between putting food on the table or cannabis in their stash jar, will simply give up their chronic habits. Historically in times of economic turmoil, legal drug markets (aka alcohol and tobacco) have experienced almost recession proof sales. We’ll just have to wait and see if the same can be said for those growers and sellers who rely heavily on the illicit cannabis market as their primary source of income.
In the meantime I will be digging feverishly in all my trouser pockets and under every couch cushion for all the change I can possibly find to put into my weed piggy bank.