Pubdate: Thu, 09 Jan 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Section: page 1A
Copyright: 2014 The Denver Post Corp
Contact:  http://www.denverpost.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/122
Author: John Ingold

COLORADO STORES SEE STEADY STREAMS

Perhaps 100,000 Have Bought Pot, and One Business Sold
Out.

Only one week into Colorado's history-making recreational marijuana
industry, one shop has already sold out of pot, others fear they may
soon experience the same fate, and perhaps as many as 100,000 people
have legally bought the product at Colorado stores.

Industry advocates estimate Colorado stores have already done more
than $5 million in sales - including $1 million on New Year's Day -
although National Cannabis Industry Association executive director
Aaron Smith acknowledges those are "back of the envelope" figures. The
owner of one store said she expects to make as much in sales in the
first 10 days of January as she did all of last year selling medical
marijuana- a welcome burst of business that has come with long days
and little rest.

"I had a dream once that I opened my store and didn't have any
competition," said Robin Hackett, a co-owner of BotanaCare in
Northglenn. "I had no idea it was a nightmare."

Fears of marijuana shortages pervade the young industry. On Wednesday,
a sign hanging in the door to The Clinic location near Colorado
Boulevard and Interstate 25 in Denver read: "We are currently out of
recreational cannabis. Please check back tomorrow. Sorry for the
inconvenience."

Many shops have imposed caps on maximum purchase amounts well below
the caps required under state law. Numerous store owners say they have
sold out of marijuana-infused edible products. Toni Fox, the owner of
3D Cannabis Center in Denver, said she closed her store on Monday and
Tuesday this week in order to restock and give her staff a break. The
store saw nearly 500 customers on Jan. 1 and close to that each day
afterward.

Even for stores that reported robust inventory, like High Country
Healing in Silverthorne, owners said marijuana could become scarce
across the industry if more stores don't get their licenses approved
and open to absorb the flood of interest.

"None of us could really prepare for what was going to hit us," High
Country Healing owner Nick Brown said Tuesday. "I think we all thought
we would see huge demand and lines. But I don't think any of us
expected what has happened over the last six days."

Well more than 10,000 people bought marijuana at Colorado's
recreational pot shops on Jan. 1, according to industry estimates and
tallies provided by the stores. And, while that initial surge was
expected, the sustained interest was not. Brown and several other
store owners said they saw only a slight drop-off in sales in the days
after Jan. 1. Extrapolating from opening-day numbers, as many as
100,000 purchases have been made in the eight days in which it has
been legal for people over 21 to buy marijuana in Colorado after
showing nothing more than identification.

"It's been staying very, very steady," said Lauren Hoover, the manager
of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club.

Hoover said 1,500 shoppers passed through the store on Jan. 1. A
typical day for medical-marijuana sales last year was 20 to 40
customers, she said.

In Denver, where 18 stores were licensed to be open for recreational
sales on Jan. 1, four more stores have received licenses in the past
week, according to city officials. Still, industry advocates expect
supply crunches to last for a while.

"It's going to be an issue in at least these first few months," Smith
said.

That's because Colorado recreational marijuana stores- all of which
previously operated as medical marijuana dispensaries - are currently
required to grow what they sell. Commercial growing didn't actually
become legal until Jan. 1, the same day retail sales did. All of the
marijuana being sold now comes from a one-time-only transfer of plants
and inventory from the stores' medical marijuana supplies.

In the short term, stores will be able to restock with mini-harvests
of the transferred plants. But it will take until March or April
before shops will have a full harvest of plants grown solely for
recreational sale.

"The retail marijuana market will take a few months to settle, and we
will be closely monitoring activity," Julie Postlethwait, a
spokeswoman for Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division, wrote in an
e-mail.

So far, Postlethwait wrote, state regulators have not taken any
enforcement actions against a store.  
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