The price of getting high, stoned and drunk in BC: A comparison of minimum prices for alcohol and other psychoactive substances




Stockwell, Tim
Vallance, Kate
Martin, Gina
Macdonald, Scott
Ivsins, Andrew
Chow, Clifton
Greer, Alissa
Zhao, Jinhui
Duff, Cameron
Lucas, Philippe

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Centre for Addictions Research of BC


Overview ••This bulletin compares the price of alcohol in British Columbia with “standard doses” of six widely used illicit drugs. ••Street prices for illicit drugs were estimated by 1606 recreational and street drug users interviewed in Victoria and Vancouver over the past three years ( ••BC government prices were provided by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for October 2010 ••CARBC surveyed prices in 150 BC private liquor stores between July and October 2010. ••Minimum prices in both government and private liquor stores were lower for some products than official minimum prices. ••Alcohol had the lowest minimum price at 58 cents for a standard drink, though hazardous forms of non-beverage alcohol (antifreeze, rubbing alcohol and mouthwash) were still cheaper. ••Other estimated lowest prices were $1.07 for a small joint of cannabis, $1.25 for half a tablet of ecstasy, $2.57 for 0.075 g of crack, $3.33 for 0.1 g of cocaine, $4.00 for 0.1 g of crystal meth and $8 for 0.1 g of heroin. ••The lowest price for exceeding national low risk drinking guidelines on a single day was $2.32 for a woman (4+ standard drinks) and $2.80 for a man (5+ standard drinks). ••Lowest prices for five “standard doses” of illicit substances were estimated to be: $5.35 for cannabis, $6.25 for ecstasy, $12.85 for crack, $16.67 for cocaine, $20 for crystal meth and $40 for heroin. ••Cannabis had the lowest median price of $1.87 for a small joint (0.25 g) followed by alcohol ($3.25) and ecstasy ($3.75). Alcohol had by far the highest price of $994 per standard drink for one product. ••Alcohol causes more preventable death, injury and illness in British Columbia than do illicit drugs and results in more presentations to treatment agencies. ••Minimum prices for alcoholic drinks in BC are not linked to the cost of living or to the alcohol content of drinks and are considerably lower than in Saskatchewan and Ontario. ••These findings are interpreted as supporting the need for a better cocktail of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies in BC e.g. more targeted alcohol pricing policies, managed alcohol programs, heroin prescription, opioid drug substitution programs


CARBC Statistical Bulletin #7


price, stoned, minimum prices, alcohol, psychoactive