Less than two weeks after recreational pot sales became legal in California, some of Sacramento’s dispensaries already are complaining about supply problems.
Curtis Ducart, purchasing manager for River City Phoenix and Hugs Sacramento, said the dispensaries haven’t been able to stock many of the edible marijuana products that are popular with people who consume cannabis but don’t like to smoke it. He said the dispensaries only have been able to secure products from three manufacturers instead of the 10 they used when they served only medical customers.
In going from a medical-marijuana market to a retail market, California’s cannabis industry has had to make some quick adjustments because state regulations weren’t released until about a month before the Jan. 1 start of retail sales. Few sectors of the industry were pinched as hard as the edibles market, as the state approved potency limits that were generally lower than what was sold to medical customers and required the edibles to be divided into portions.
“For people who don’t like to smoke, this is quite concerning,” Ducart said. “A lot of the edible companies are two to three months away from being able to sell.”
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Kimberly Cargile, owner of A Therapeutic Alternative dispensary, said she has the same problem with edibles. “We had a huge selection before and now we have only a few kinds,” she said.
In a state with as much marijuana as California, it might be hard to imagine a supply shortage. But the supply chain is a new system, and it requires licensed operators to only work with other licensed operators. State and local regulators have acknowledged that it will take time before the state’s marijuana supply chain is operating efficiently, and interruptions should be expected.
“There is no supply shortage, but there is a permitting crisis, and it is especially severe in the Sacramento/Gold Country region,” said Hezekiah Allen of the California Growers Association.
Nevada, Colorado and Washington had supply shortages after the start of legalization.
Sacramento pot czar Joe Devlin said a lack of licensed distributors could create supply problems. Under state law, licensed distribution companies must ship cannabis products from cultivators, manufacturers and testing facilities to retail dispensaries.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control has licensed 66 distribution companies statewide and two in Sacramento. Devlin attributes the low number of distributors to the relatively short time that the state system has been in place, and he thinks companies will fill the void quickly.
“We won’t be talking about this in a couple of months,” he said.
Devlin’s counterpart at the state, Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, also has expressed optimism that the distribution problem will work itself out.
Ducart said a lack of distributors has created some hangups for his dispensaries although not as much as the shortage of edibles.
Another supply issue for Sacramento dispensaries is all the nearby counties with bans on commercial grows, including Placer and Nevada, Allen said. Some dispensaries had agreements with growers in those counties before the bans were enacted.