Remember when we told you that Colorado is smoking 10+ metric tons of marijuana per month, or the equivalent of about 15 T-Rexes or a two-story house? Well apparently that number is about to go north, as Colorado law makers recently acknowledged that the State needs to produce more legally grown marijuana. The goal is to shut down illegal marijuana operations.
“[E]ven though sales have surged [in Colorado], only about 60% of the marijuana sold is the legal variety. The rest is either illegal or grown unregulated in the so-called gray market, where unlicensed citizens can grow for their own use.
Colorado residents and visitors will consume an estimated 287,000 pounds of marijuana in 2014, but only about 170,000 pounds will come from legal medical or recreational outlets, according to a report commissioned by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.
The rest, about 118,000 pounds, or 41%, is expected to be produced by people who can legally grow up to six pot plants for personal consumption, registered caregivers who provide marijuana to medical patients, and black market producers, including gangs, who operate outside the Colorado legal system.
As a result, Colorado state regulators are trying to increase the amount of marijuana produced and sold by legal retailers.
“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,” Kammerzell said.
However, new data comparing demand for marijuana in Colorado with the legal supply suggest that criminal enterprises could stay in business.
“Basically, the state is trying to ensure that the amount that is being grown in Colorado equals what the demand is,” said Mike Elliot, executive director of Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association for the state’s marijuana industry. “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.”