There are times when you are caught in a rushing river, struggling, as debris zips past and waves crash over your head, to deliberately force your head above the surface to take a breath before you’re submerged again and tumbled further downstream. There’s always a temptation in moments like that to see a slower-moving log as a salvation, something to grab on to that may provide just enough stability for you to feel like, at least today, you’ll be able to survive.
In the Category 200 rapids that were the news conference President Trump held Thursday, his comment about how drugs are cheaper than candy bars was my slow-moving log.
There were probably dozens of things that Trump said over the course of the event that could be broken out, analyzed and assessed — not to mention corrected. Trump made any number of claims that by themselves could fill out a day’s edition of The Washington Post with fact checks, but one stood out for its combination of weirdness, incorrectness and sheer accessibility.
Trump: "Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars." pic.twitter.com/ub4yqY0QCj
— POLITICO (@politico) February 16, 2017
“Drugs,” he said, “are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
The reason he said this is clear. Trump has been hammering on the threat posed by crime and the dangers of drug abuse for some time, in part because it helps make the political case for his policies, like building a wall on the Mexican border. But it isn’t really true.
It is true that some drug in some quantity might be less expensive than some candy bar at some size. After all, Cadbury once sold a $1,600 candy bar in Britain, more than enough to afford an assortment of drugs. (The price was mostly a function of the packaging, which was gold leaf. The linked article probably explains why they did this, but frankly I don’t care.)
You could similarly ask a drug dealer to sell you 50 cents of weed, for example, which would cost less than, say, a Milky Way bar. But that is not how drugs work, in part because buying 50 cents of marijuana isn’t going to do you much good if you intend to use it for the purposes for which marijuana is usually purchased.
As a general rule, though, the cheapest drug is going to be more expensive than a relatively pricey candy bar. And because this is The Washington Post and I do not expect you to take my word for it, I did the math.
First, I compiled prices for illegal drugs. I did this in the nerdiest way possible: searching on Quora.
- Cocaine: $60 for a gram
- Methamphetamines: $350 for an ounce
- Marijuana: $2,000 for a pound
- Heroin: $80 for a gram
- Ecstasy: $10 for a 80 milligrams
- Spice/K2: $2 for a joint (half a gram)
Let me take a second to say that I do not care whether you can buy your drugs for prices that are lower than these. Drug prices vary based on a number of factors: geography, personal relationships, time of year. Unless you can demonstrate that prices are substantially lower, universally, that your guy will charge you $1,800 for a pound of pot is something for you to brag about with your friends, not send to me over email.
For our comparison with candy bar prices to work uniformly, we need to settle on a common unit from which to compare prices. Let’s take weed again. A pound, per Quora, costs more than that $1,600 candy bar — but an ounce costs less. So we need to compare that candy bar by weight with that marijuana by weight to get a better sense of what we’re talking about. So let’s use an ounce.
- Cocaine: $1,700.97 an ounce
- Methamphetamines: $350 an ounce
- Marijuana: $125 an ounce
- Heroin: $2,267.96 an ounce
- Ecstasy: $354.37 an ounce
- Spice: $28.35 an ounce
One nice thing about buying candy vs. buying illegal drugs is that you can buy it legally. Meaning that online retailers offer prices that we can use for our comparison. In this case, I used Target.
- Twix: $0.89 for 1.68 oz.
- Toblerone: $5.39 for 12.6 oz.
- Kit Kat: $1.39 for 3 oz.
- Hershey’s: $0.89 for 1.55 oz.
- Three Musketeers: $0.89 for 2.13 oz.
- Milky Way: $0.89 for 2.05 oz.
- That fancy candy bar: $1,600 for 48 grams or about 1.7 oz.
Let me take a second to say that I do not care if you can buy your candy for prices that are lower than these. Candy prices vary based on a number of factors: geography, personal relationships, time of year. Unless you can demonstrate that prices are substantially lower, universally, that your guy will charge you $0.45 for a Twix bar is something for you to brag about with your friends, not send to me over email.
So how do these prices compare with our drug prices? Favorably.
Except for that fancy-wrapped Cadbury candy bar, the cost of candy bars per ounce is substantially lower than the price of illegal drugs.
In other words, to think that candy bars are more expensive than drugs, you’d need to be the sort of person who would be tempted to buy an overpriced candy bar made overseas that was expensive mostly because it was wrapped in gold leaf.
Now, who would think that’s appealing?