As Colorado begins legal recreational marijuana sales, interested watchers from across the country are noticing a distinct trend: Pot prices are shooting sky high.
According to industry experts, recreational customers are being charged nearly double the price of medicinal marijuana users. In one dispensary, Medicine Man Denver, recreational customers are being charged $45 for an eighth of an ounce, while medicinal customers pay $25. The reason? Those good ole laws of economics.
“That’s just supply and demand,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, to Bloomberg. “As more businesses open and the businesses get a sense of what the demand is and are able to meet it, the prices will go back down.”
According to Smith, the price of recreational pot has averaged $400 per ounce since the state allowed fully legal sales on January 1. In comparison, medicinal marijuana has averaged $200 since that time.
With Colorado the first state to fully legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and older, many customers are paying the premium prices because of the sense of security that comes with the new regulations.
“They’re not used to coming into a facility and paying $25 an eighth, so when they come in, it’s just whatever the price is,” Medicine Man Denver CEO Andy Williams told Bloomberg. “Having the ability to buy safe, reliable, quality marijuana in an environment that’s fun and exciting sure beats going in a back alley and saying, ‘Hey buddy, you got a bag?’”
State and local governments seem to be enjoying the extra funds wrought by marijuana sales as well. According to a spokesman for the city of Denver, recreational marijuana sales within the city are taxed at about a 21 percent rate with both local and state taxes assessed.
With this windfall occurring in Colorado, the voices for legalization elsewhere may come from businessmen as much as customers. For in-house counsel, that could mean that now is the time to review company drug policies. In Illinois, for instance, recent medicinal marijuana laws have already forced some businesses to adjust labor and employment policies to allow employees to undergo “a reasonable opportunity to contest the basis of the determination” in the case of marijuana-related discipline.
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