Colorado is already suffering a shortage of cannabis after an estimated 100,000 people purchased the drug since legal sales to the general public began on New Year's Day.
The supply shortages came as the Rocky Mountain ski resort of Aspen, a favourite with celebrities and billionaires, approved a licence for its first cannabis shop. Jordan Lewis, a cannabis entrepreneur who owns the store, told the Aspen Times: "Hopefully we're going to create the finest marijuana establishment in the country." Colorado became the first US state to begin legal sales of cannabis for recreational use on January 1.
The three dozen shops licenced to sell the drug to anyone over the age of 21 have already rung up an estimated $5 million in sales between them, including $1 million on New Year's Day alone.
A sign in the window at The Clinic, a cannabis shop in Denver, read: "We are currently out of recreational cannabis. Please check back tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience." Ryan Cook, the general manager, told local television: "We ultimately ran out of our flower products for retail sales. We had a thousand people in line every day for the first four days."
Other shops in Denver reported running out of cannabis-infused products such as chocolates and cakes. Some are rationing sales to a quarter ounce rather than the maximum of an ounce. Nick Brown, of High Country Healing, told the Denver Post: "None of us could really prepare for what was going to hit us."