High demand has pot shops running low

Denver's 3D Cannabis Center owner Toni Fox thought she had enough marijuana to last through February when she opened her doors Jan. 1 for recreational pot sales.

Then she served 450 customers Jan. 1 and turned away 60. She planned to close Monday and Tuesday, she said, to re-evaluate her supply.

She had been serving 25 clients a day for the past three years while her store was restricted to medical marijuana sales, she said.

"We are going to run out," she predicted Thursday, the second day of legal marijuana sales for recreational use. "It's insane."

Fox said she had a harvest ready to be trimmed. And she will hire temporary staffers from Hemp Temps, a Denver-based staffing company that specializes in growing, trimming and bud-tending.


But she guessed the supply shortage is the same story at all of Denver's 18 stores and Pueblo's two stores that opened last week with long lines of customers — more than half from out of the state — waiting one or two hours to make history by ending marijuana prohibition in the state.

Now, she said, marijuana store owners will all be scrambling to find wholesale distributors, especially on marijuana-infused products like edibles and beverages. But she's not complaining.

"It's awesome," she said. "I wish more stores could have opened."

News of people traveling across state lines to purchase pot the Wyoming Highway Patrol to issue a release with a stern warning: "Don't bring your Colorado-purchased marijuana into Wyoming."

The release reminded readers that possession of an ounce or less carries a punishment of 12 months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

Under Colorado's Amendment 64, people 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of pot. And last legislative session, lawmakers hammered out the details of marijuana regulation that covered everything from packaging and labeling to background checks for business owners and a complex licensing process.

The National Cannabis Industry is projecting $400 million in sales in 2014.

Not all Colorado cities are taking part in the rush. The Colorado Springs City Council voted 5-4 in July to opt out of sales, despite the city's voters approving Amendment 64.


There is no telling how much Colorado Springs is losing in sales tax revenue from pot sales for recreational use, said Tom Binnings, an economist with Colorado Springs-based Summit Economics.

"It's a challenge for an economist to study any new market that has not existed before," Binnings said. "It's a wonderful market experiment. It will provide interesting data for researchers in the future to look at what happens when a market that is illegal and becomes legal."

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