SEATTLE – Seattle’s first and only recreational marijuana store had to close on Friday after running out of stock in just three days after Washington became the second U.S. state to allow pot sales to adults.
Cannabis City opened on Tuesday with at least 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of marijuana for sale. By the close of business Thursday, it was all gone. A message on the store’s phone line said it would re-open on July 21.
There were widespread concerns that shortages of pot would afflict retailers after the state issued its first 25 licenses to outlets under a heavily regulated and taxed system that was approved by voters in November 2012.
Some business owners planned to limit the amount of marijuana that early customers could buy to try to make stocks last.
Amber McGowan, manager at Cannabis City, said on Thursday the store would likely not have enough inventory to stay open for all of its regularly scheduled business hours until a delivery arrived in the next week.
She said the shop had only been able to stay open as long as it had by limiting customers to one-fifth of an ounce (6 grams) per purchase, rather than the legal limit of 1 ounce (28 grams).
The rollout of recreational sales in Colorado and then Washington comes as a broader trend of liberalization and pro-pot activism takes hold in the United States.
Progress in Washington has been slow, however. State regulators are still processing more than 300 license applications, and approved growers have produced only limited harvests so far.
Industry insiders say the shortages are likely to be only temporary, caused in part by the short notice that many retailers had to prepare for opening and by a surge of pent-up demand.
This past week, Colorado estimated that state’s total marijuana demand for this year at 130 tons.
“A year from now, product is likely going to be far more available,” said Sean Green, chief executive officer of Kouchlock Productions, a marijuana producer in Washington.
Another local supplier, Wow Weed, said it was trying to help the stores but there was only so much it could do.
“We have been hearing from retailers off the hook. My voice mail is full every single day,” said Wow’s Susy Wilson. “It’s the same people calling over and over, hoping I’ll pull something out of thin air.”
Frustrated consumers in Seattle, a city of 630,000 people, made light of the shortages, with one Twitter user urging outlets to adopt a green “Pot Light” system for their windows to show they had stock — similar to the Hot Light employed by the doughnut brand Krispy Kreme.