No - Pot Shops Aren't Actually Running Out of Supply In Colorado

The burgeoning cannabis industry in Colorado got off to an overwhelming start New Years day, bringing in more than $5 million in a single week, as tourists and locals alike lined snowy streets to await their chance to purchase the first batches of legalized weed. Many pot shops underestimated the opening week flurry of thousands of eager customers and as a result, supply was running low and several shops were imposing caps on the amount each customer could purchase or raising the prices to avoid a deficit of supply—but only temporarily.

Last week Toni Fox—who owns the 3D Cannabis Center dispensary where the first ever legal sale took place—told Colorado Springs Gazette that before 2014 the dispensary served just 25 medical patients per day, but on January 1 they served 450 customers and had to and turn 60 people away. Fox said in the article that she was concerned about running out of supply if the “mad rush” continued at that pace.

But the rush is easing up. Pete Vasquez, general manager at the Medicine Man dispensary in Denver, told Huffington Post that compared to last week the crowds are smaller and they’re not selling out.

"From customers I’ve heard that no one else is selling out either, it’s just something going around on the news,” he said.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the idea of shops running out of pot was overhyped by the media.

“This is a historic occasion, so it's not surprising that the demand has been greater than usual,” Tvert said. “Like with iPhones, there are those who want to be the first to get them and are willing to wait in line until the product sells out. Not long after, it becomes just another product that people are able to purchase without waiting in line and there is plenty in stock at all times. It won't be long before the experience of buying marijuana becomes similar to that of buying alcohol.”

The only shop that AlterNet was able to confirm as actually having sold out of its products was The Clinic in Denver, which ran out for a single day but was able to restock and keep selling by the next morning.

Tvert additionally notes that any current production caps in place to regulate shops’ supply can be adjusted, so as soon as a business sells out, they can apply to increase their cap relatively easily.

The demand for marijuana in the historic first week of business was most likely an anomaly the likes of which will not be repeated in the future. In addition to the fact that this was a historic, one of a kind occasion, only a fraction of the shops slated to enter the market in the Rocky Mountain State have actually opened their doors. About 36 shops were open January 1, and more than 150 are expected to follow suit in the coming months as additional cities move forward with their local ordinances and processes. 

For a weekly roundup of news and developments in the drug reform movement and the injustices stemming from prohibition, sign up to receive AlterNet's Drugs Newsletter here. Make sure to scroll down to "Drugs" and subscribe! 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.