Summary: Recreational pot is legal in the state of Colorado, but the supply has not been as strong as many would have liked it to be. The state is working to produce more legal marijuana to meet the demand.
Recreational marijuana was legalized seven months ago in the state of Colorado, but it has run into the problem of not having enough, according to the Rocky Mountain PBS I-News.
Sales in Colorado are surging, but just 60 percent of marijuana sold is legal. The remainder of the marijuana sold is grown unregulated in the gray market or is illegal. The gray market includes unlicensed citizens growing the pot for their own use.
In 2014, residents and visitors of the state will consume 287,000 pounds of marijuana, with just 170,000 pounds coming from legal medical or recreational outlets. This information comes from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.
The remaining 41 percent will be produced by people who legally can grow up to six pot plants for their own consumption, black market producers and marijuana provided to medical patients.
“Right now, we are pretty significantly under what should be produced,” said Ron Kammerzell, deputy senior director of enforcement for the state Department of Revenue.
“What that does is, (it) raises the prices and if the price is too high, then we can’t compete with the black market and that was our ultimate goal — we wanted to eliminate the black market.”
Mike Elliot is the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. Elliot said, “Basically, the state is trying to ensure that the amount that is being grown in Colorado equals what the demand is. If there is too much, then people want to take it out of state or sell to kids (minors), and if there is too little, then the black market will fill in the gaps.”
Reducing the black market is not only a state goal but also a federal priority.
Licensed sellers in the state claim that the price is the problem and not the actual supply of the legal marijuana. Brian Ruden is the owner of Starbud, Altermeds and Tree of Wellness in Denver, Louisville and Colorado Springs.
Ruden said, “After the cost of producing each pound, I still have to pay a 15% excise tax, licensing fees, huge rent because landlords overcharge marijuana dispensaries, and when I pay federal income tax I can’t deduct like a regular business. I am selling an eighth (of an ounce) for $60 when the street price is about $25.”