The news: On Jan. 1, pot will legally go on sale in Colorado, and Denver's marijuana enthusiasts will face every stoner's worst nightmare: running out of bud.
It's not because there's not enough to go around. Instead, it's that marijuana distributors aren't open for business. More than 100 stores have applied for licenses and are waiting for their applications to be approved by city and state officials. But just 12 are likely to be ready for business on the first at 8 a.m.
"If we have 10 stores open … we could have people camping out overnight with cash in their pocket," said councilman Charlie Brown. "How is the industry, how is the police department going to work together?"
After the November 2012 legislation passed, Colorado spent six months setting rules and regulations for the new industry. "Clearly we are charting new territory. Other states haven't been through this process," said Governor John Hickenlooper in May. "Recreational marijuana is really a completely new entity."
"I'm going to run out of cannabis; it's just a matter of when," said Toni Fox, owner of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, referring to a pending decision by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) over how much medical marijuana will be allowed to be sold as a retail product. "Basically, with whatever the MED decision is, I think I'll temporarily run out of marijuana product by the end of the weekend after New Years."
But don't let it harsh your vibe. Any shortage will be temporary, and many more full-scale marijuana retail operations will come online in the months after, despite much of the Denver city council and Mayor Michael Hancock kicking and screaming the whole way. Hancock even went so far as to try to make the odor of marijuana illegal:
Colorado pot shops expect a heavy mix of in-state locals and out-of-state weed tourists looking to buy it where it's legal. Fox expects a 50/50 split, and may enact a purchase limit for in-state buyers.
Not a single shop will clear licensing requirements until at least Dec. 27.
"There's a perception that come Jan. 1, Colorado's going to be like Walmart on Black Friday, people pouring through the doors. Not going to happen," said Medical Marijuana Industry Group spokesman Mike Elliot. "There might be a lot of disappointed people on New Year's Day."