With more than 50 recreational cannabis shops now open and statewide numbers reported to have exceeded $1 million in the first day of sales, stories surrounding the burgeoning marijuana industry in Colorado now buzz around a rumor: the weed is running out.
While demand for recreational cannabis continues to take shape beyond the initial rush of the first week, fears of shortages stem from Colorado’s system to establish a retail cannabis market. The marijuana tracking system, known as seed-to-sale, required the retail stores to set Jan. 1 as not only the first day of sales, but also the first day cannabis was legally allowed to be cultivated for recreational purposes.
In order to open on time the retail cannabis stores were permitted to draw a one-time transfer from the medical supply. This transfer was achieved because all retail cannabis shops in Colorado are former medical marijuana dispensaries, the only type of business eligible to apply for state licenses at this time.
The retail marijuana supply in Colorado is now fixed as distributors and consumers wait for the plants which are deemed recreational to grow. During the first week of recreational cannabis sales, some retail outlets reported setting caps on purchases, while others hiked up prices to as much as $70 for an eighth.
With sales on the rise, retail cannabis outlets may now turn to quick growing and curing techniques in order to ensure the inventory is available on time.
In addition, Coloradans are embracing the fact that Amendment 64 allows residents to grow up to six plants at home and share up to an ounce “without remuneration.” Marijuana social clubs are already in place across the state. These clubs operate in a grey area by charging a membership fee and then providing marijuana free of charge. The cannabis social clubs also provide a place to smoke in a group environment as one cannot smoke at a bar and restaurant in Colorado or consume marijuana “openly and publicly.”
What is yet to be seen is how far the non-profit cooperative production and distribution of marijuana will fit within the state’s laws of defining “remuneration” and if this noncommercial production alternative will provide relief from potentially inflated prices for retail sales.