An overwhelmingly high demand for recreational marijuana in Colorado sparked rumors last week that pot shops were starting to sell out of weed -- a problem that could prompt some people to return to the black market.
However, now that the dust has settled since the dash to buy pot during its first days of commercial legalization in the state, those rumors appear to be the result of an opening-week rush.
“We do have a smaller crowd today compared to last week, and we’re not selling out," Pete Vasquez, general manager at the Denver dispensary Medicine Man, told The Huffington Post over the phone. "From customers I’ve heard that no one else is selling out either, it’s just something going around on the news."
Other dispensaries validated Vasquez's assessment.
“We are not sold out and have tons of inventory,” Ryan Garbey, a bartender at Denver Kush Club, told HuffPost.
Since commercial marijuana became legal in Colorado on Jan. 1., at least 37 stores in the state were licensed to sell recreational pot to anyone 21 or older, causing thousands of eager patrons to flock to the shops, The Denver Post reports.
"I know businesses are trying to take it slow. Some are limiting the amount that they sell per transaction," Mason Tvert, the communications director at Marijuana Policy Project, told HuffPost over the phone. "Ultimately, I haven’t heard from anyone who is actually going to sell out. I think that the rush is going to die down very quickly if it hasn’t already. So I wouldn’t be too worried about that."
However, last week's massive turnout had many store owners worried they’d have to close shop this week for lack of supplies.
Toni Fox, owner of the dispensary 3D Cannabis Center, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that she served 450 customers and turned away 60 on opening day, Jan. 1. Before the new year, she had been serving just 25 clients a day in medical marijuana sales.
“We are going to run out,” Fox told the Gazette on Friday. “It’s insane. This weekend will be just as crazy. If there is a mad rush, we’ll be out by Monday.”
According to The Denver Post, several shops reported selling out of edibles (marijuana-laced food) by Jan. 2, while others had to close up shop early Wednesday due to limited supplies. Before Jan. 1, the commercial growing of marijuana was also illegal, the outlet noted, so most of the marijuana sold since the new year has come from stores’ medical marijuana supply.
The tough regulations on how commercial marijuana is grown and distributed had many worried the high prices and demand from residents and tourists -- more than half of pot sales have gone to out-of-state residents -- would leave stores temporarily closed, according to Time.
"People will get real tired of paying the taxes real fast,” Tracy, a street dealer from Pueblo, Colo., told the Pueblo Chieftain. “When you can buy an ounce from me for $225 to $300, the state adds as much as $90 just for the tax.”
However, despite "sold out" rumors, Vasquez -- who says prices have reached as high as $500 per ounce (including taxes) at some dispensaries -- isn’t worried that patrons will return to the black market.
“It’s much safer to come inside a store with an armed guard and pick what you actually want. There’s lots of benefits coming in here and no risk of getting robbed like on the streets," he told HuffPost.