Shocker: Legalization produces pot sales boom, shortages in Colorado

posted at 2:01 pm on January 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s been a week since Colorado became the first state — and arguably perhaps the first government in the world — to fully legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Legalization advocates claimed before the law passed that legalization does not equal endorsement, and that the effect would be mostly limited to shifting sales from the black market into the open. At least in the first week of legalization, it seems to have produced a little more demand than predicted:

A few years ago, after Andy Williams quit his job as an industrial engineer to become a marijuana entrepreneur, his nights were haunted by a recurring dream. “I would have nightmares about being in prison and never seeing my family again,” he says. “The same nightmare for weeks.”

These days Williams isn’t sleeping much at all, but the deprivation isn’t driven by fear. The debut of Colorado‘s market for retail pot sales has propelled a crush of new customers to Medicine Man, his cannabis dispensary in north Denver. Early on Monday morning, a line of buyers snaked through the shop, waiting to purchase one of 21 strains of pot from glass jars arrayed in display cases, or to sample the menu of THC-infused chocolates, tinctures, creams, lozenges and baked goods. Between extensive preparations for the Jan. 1 rollout of the world’s first legal marijuana market and the media attention that has attended it, Williams says he has been too busy to sleep much at all lately.

Rationing and price spikes have resulted:

“We are going to run out,” Denver dispensary owner Toni Fox said amid the frenzied opening of the retail market. That was, in fact, the fate of Denver-based Clinic Colorado, which exhausted its supply of recreational pot on Monday.

To keep their doors open, most businesses are resorting to rationing. The new Colorado law allows customers to purchase up to an ounce for personal use, but some stores are limiting individuals to just an eighth of that to preserve supply; one store in the western part of the state is capping sales at a single gram. Most have already hiked prices, which have jumped to as much as $65 per eighth at some stores.

Needless to say, this isn’t a bad outcome in terms of tax revenues, and there is a novelty factor in play here, too. The demand will likely subside to more normal levels after a few weeks, but it still leaves open the question of whether legalization in the long run sends a moral signal that encourages use. Colorado will make a very good laboratory to test that hypothesis, and other states will certainly pay attention to the results.


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MJBrutus, pot shop is being evicted from Main St. in March at the end of their lease. They’ll move onto Airport Rd., about 2 miles away. Honestly, I think this is all hilarious. It’s not locals who are excited about this, it’s the tourists. Breckenridge ski resort is mightily concerned. Using the stuff on forest land is a no no, but try to enforce it. More states will go this way and Barry and Eric have no intention of enforcing federal standards.

COgirl on January 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

More likely I-25 – coming up from Mexico.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 3:55 PM

I meant going out from Colorado back east.

cptacek on January 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

poor guy, are people not doing what you want them to do? Damn, life’s tough.

MoreLiberty on January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Woah, I thought stoners were supposed to be more laid back. Looks like if you disagree with them, they’re just as pissy as everyone else.

Dongemaharu on January 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Will restaurants be able to serve it in other ways? Pot brownies come to find. I’m sure that many more delectable creations will arise :-)

MJBrutus on January 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

I heard there were already THC gummy bears.

You know the kids are going to stay away from that!

Remember when cigarette companies could have no other reason to feature a cartoon than to entice kids to smoke? I mean, it’s a cartoon!!

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

“Dad gummit”? Folks, you might want stay away from Grandma’s brownies from now on.

M240H on January 9, 2014 at 4:25 PM

I now picture Melissa’s mom (played by Annie Potts?) on 2 and a half men. “I got a righteous batch of chronic growing in the garage…”

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:31 PM

“Sorry, we’re out of weed. Go back to your dealer.”

Ward Cleaver on January 9, 2014 at 4:33 PM

I meant going out from Colorado back east.

cptacek on January 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Not likely much more than there always has been illegally.
You can’t legally take it outside the state – because of federal law, and non-Colorado residents can only buy 1/8 ounce at a time. So people from other states can’t legally come to Colorado and buy a pound or 2 to take home with them.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Dude, relax and blaze one up. It’ll make that bad national debt seem miles away… Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Been a looong time.

But you can pass me that Scotch if you’re not using it…

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Whatever happened to the instant deathknell of second hand smoke? Cannabis must be far more healthful than those nasty cigarettes!

Whoa.

marybel on January 9, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Smoking anything is illegal inside bars and restaurants in Colorado, or even outside within something like 20 feet of a doorway.
My understanding of the pot law is that it pretty much only allows consumption in private. But I’m not really sure what it really says regarding consumption in thing like brownies and such.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Yeah I trust the govt more when they are locking us up by the tens of thousands for possessing plants.

I mean, if pot becomes legal nationwide, we’ll have trouble filling half the beds in our prisons!

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I have no problem with the legalization of weed on a state to state basis. I don’t, however, think the legalization will suddenly make the black market go away. And I certainly don’t want to pay for anyone’s pot habit, but alas Democrats do exist in real life.

My point was simply that everyday more important rights are being ceded and taken away; and yet the ones we are “gaining’ are ones that make us complacent or more dependent on the government.

melle1228 on January 9, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I now picture Melissa’s mom (played by Annie Potts?) on 2 and a half men. “I got a righteous batch of chronic growing in the garage…”

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I think that’s Carol Kane.

M240H on January 9, 2014 at 4:40 PM

I’m sure it’s illegal to violate CO’s regulatory laws on selling. I’m just wondering about the penalties. Will those penalties unnecessarily ruin lives?

blink on January 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Hard to say. With the gubmint, it’s always all about the money….

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:41 PM

MJBrutus…

The recipes in the Time article weren’t based on brownies. They were paired with smokes, as if they were wines.
Other than in baked goods which mask the strong aroma, I can’t think of anything else it’d be good in. Spaghetti Cannibisalini?

marybel on January 9, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I think that’s Carol Kane.

M240H on January 9, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Ya – probably.
I don’t know why, but I always get those 2 confused.
But you obviously know the character I’m talking about.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I’m not really sure what it really says regarding consumption in thing like brownies and such. dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Whoa, how do ya spark up a brownie?! They seem kinda like, not flammable.

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I now picture Melissa’s mom (played by Annie Potts?) on 2 and a half men. “I got a righteous batch of chronic growing in the garage…”

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I think that’s Carol Kane.

M240H on January 9, 2014 at 4:40 PM

It is.

M240H on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

My point was simply that everyday more important rights are being ceded and taken away; and yet the ones we are “gaining’ are ones that make us complacent or more dependent on the government. melle1228 on January 9, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Nothing that govt has done, at any level, has made me complacent or dependent on it.

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Whoa, how do ya spark up a brownie?! They seem kinda like, not flammable.

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I don’t really know – I still have trouble keeping my salmon lit…..

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Nothing that govt has done, at any level, has made me complacent or dependent on it.

Akzed on January 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Drugs in general make people more dependent on the government. Most if not all of the dependency and neglect cases our law office represents involve a drug of some kind. So while, it not make YOU complacent or dependent; it certainly has to a certain sect of the population.

melle1228 on January 9, 2014 at 4:47 PM

If you have a prescription for medical marijuana, you will be denied when you file ATF Form 4473.

Murphy9 on January 9, 2014 at 4:48 PM

If you have a prescription for medical marijuana, you will be denied when you file ATF Form 4473.

Murphy9 on January 9, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Yes – assuming you answer question e honestly.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

and that the effect would be mostly limited to shifting sales from the black market into the open.

Hogwash…..see NY/NJ and the cigarette bootlegging problem. See people making beer and moonshine in their basements to avoid paying the taxes. Hell Obama is operating an unlicensed brewery out of the White house!

Legalization isn’t going to make the cartels go away, they’ll just adapt or sell different drugs.

nazo311 on January 9, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Drugs in general make people more dependent on the government. Most if not all of the dependency and neglect cases our law office represents involve a drug of some kind. So while, it not make YOU complacent or dependent; it certainly has to a certain sect of the population.

melle1228 on January 9, 2014 at 4:47 PM

How much welfare money is going to by pot?

nazo311 on January 9, 2014 at 4:56 PM

How much welfare money is going to by pot?

nazo311 on January 9, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Probably a whole bunch, since 99 percent of our D & N cases are on some sort of government assistance.

melle1228 on January 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

I don’t know if it will encourage non users to start smoking, but with results like these, it might encourage them to start growing/selling it!

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:04 PM

So what happens now to the folks who are serving time for selling weed?

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

I don’t know if it will encourage non users to start smoking, but with results like these, it might encourage them to start growing/selling it!

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Officially speaking, private (person to person) sales are still illegal. The only legal sales are from a licensed pot shop – of which there are currently only 24 statewide.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

So what happens now to the folks who are serving time for selling weed?

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

I think it would be reasonable to let them out.
But I have read about prior situations where something that was illegal was legalized, and the government excuse for keeping people in prison was that they broke the law that existed at the time, and therefore need to fulfill their sentence.
However, I would think the governor could pardon people or commute sentences – if he wanted to. No telling with Gov Chickenpooper.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:13 PM

So what happens now to the folks who are serving time for selling weed?

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Officially speaking, private (person to person) sales are still illegal. The only legal sales are from a licensed pot shop – of which there are currently only 24 statewide.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Although, people could still get busted even now for being illegal dealers and still go to prison, so dealers already in prison may not be let off.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

I would think the right thing to do would be to pardon people who sold prior to this law…maybe not huge quantities but if they sold an ounce that doesn’t make them a criminal anymore. How much does the government make from the licensed shops? I’m sure it’s heavily regulated as far as where you can grow, etc.

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:18 PM

I would think the right thing to do would be to pardon people who sold prior to this law…maybe not huge quantities but if they sold an ounce that doesn’t make them a criminal anymore. How much does the government make from the licensed shops? I’m sure it’s heavily regulated as far as where you can grow, etc.

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:18 PM

I think clearly anyone who might be in jail for simple possession should be let go. Dealing – depending on quantity could be a very different decision. But hard to say what they will actually do.
I’m sure there are lawyers filing appeals as we type.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Yea and not to be cynical, but then there will be lobbyists for the public prisons lining the pockets of politicians to keep the weed sellers in jail. Or make new laws preventing them from being released. :/

scalleywag on January 9, 2014 at 5:40 PM

I think clearly anyone who might be in jail for simple possession should be let go. Dealing – depending on quantity could be a very different decision. But hard to say what they will actually do.
I’m sure there are lawyers filing appeals as we type.

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Fascists. Everybody should have the freedom to deal!

What I’ve heard is that legalization shouldn’t change anything, because probably the people who will partake were breaking the law beforehand. So there are probably a group of people who will break the law selling as well. That doesn’t sound like freedom. Probably what should happen is that they reduce the laws against selling because there were people selling dope before and now they just won’t be going to jail for it. Freedom baby.

Just don’t try to sell anyone vegetables from your garden, though.

Axeman on January 9, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Black Market must love this, they can increase their prices, supply and demand and no tax.

Wade on January 9, 2014 at 5:53 PM

The Black Market will make a killing.

Exit question: How does a cop tell “legal” weed from “illegal” weed?

GarandFan on January 9, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Exit question: How does a cop tell “legal” weed from “illegal” weed?

GarandFan on January 9, 2014 at 7:11 PM

In Colorado – the same way they tell a legal 30 round magazine from and illegal 30 round magazine…..

(i.e. – they can’t)

dentarthurdent on January 9, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Rocky Mountain high!

Where’s my Denver Gold?

Sherman1864 on January 10, 2014 at 10:54 AM

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