Local marijuana dispensaries are gearing up for potential crowds on New Year’s morning, when recreational pot becomes legal. How much will customers be shelling out? And how long will supplies last?
Staff writer Julie Wurth asked the two local dispensaries.
What’s the most expensive item you can buy?
Hash concentrate, for about $120, says Keith McGinnis, principal officer for NuMed in Urbana.
The priciest product listed on the new website for Champaign’s Sunnyside/Phoenix Botanical dispensary on Monday was “Sherbert diamonds and sauce,” for $108.
What’s the cheapest thing you can buy?
NuMed listed individual hot-cocoa and gummies for $7 or $8 on its website Monday, but generally, individual pre-rolled joints are the least expensive item, at $15 to $18, both companies said.
Most gummy and chocolate products will run $30 to $40, said Jason Erkes, spokesman for Cresco Labs, which owns Sunnyside/Phoenix Botanical.
One word of caution from Erkes: prices don’t include state and local taxes, which can reach 30 percent or more for recreational marijuana. Illinois imposed a 10 to 25 percent tax (depending on potency) on cannabis flower and other products and 20 percent on edibles; the cities of Champaign and Urbana added a 3 percent tax in their respective cities, and the county imposed a tax of 3 percent in incorporated areas and 3.75 percent in unincorporated areas.
Will you let people camp out overnight to reserve a space in line?
“I really don’t have any control over it,” said McGinnis, who expects some folks to arrive in the wee hours Wednesday morning before NuMed opens at 6 a.m.
NuMed will control how many people are allowed into the building at a time, and plans to offer hot chocolate and doughnuts to those waiting outside, he said. Customers will be allowed to come inside to register, and their names will be called when it’s their turn.
Erkes is expecting big crowds at Sunnyside and has “put the word out” that no lines can form until after midnight. The company will start giving out numbers to those in line at 4 a.m., he said.
To expedite the process, staff runners will work the lines to fill out preorders for customers so their merchandise is ready for pickup when it’s their turn, he said.
Supplies of marijuana “flower” — the dried buds of the plant used for smoking — are somewhat limited. Why, and how much?
Cultivators focused on supplying cannabis for medical patients until last May, when Illinois voted to legalize recreational marijuana, McGinnis said. It’s taken some time for them to expand their facilities and ramp up production to meet the higher demand, he said, adding that it may not stabilize until April.
Stores are still getting supplies delivered, so they don’t know exactly how much they’ll have on hand, McGinnis said. Marijuana flower is used for both medical and recreational customers, so “we have to make sure we maintain our adequate supply for medical patients first,” he said.
In the meantime, Erkes said, any shortages will be short-lived, perhaps just a couple of days until companies can restock. Growers use a rolling harvest to keep the supply moving, he said.
As with new iPhones or sneakers, “the first couple of days with anything, new there’s a lot of anticipation,” Erkes said. “Meeting that initial launch demand is hard. It will level off pretty quickly. There should be plenty of supply for day-to-day sales once that initial thrust of thousands of customers wears off.
“Everyone is expanding. There will be a lot more supply coming to market.”