Nightly News   |  January 11, 2014

The High Cost of Marijuana

Colorado's marijuana legalization has led to high demand, which has increased prices and quickly dwindled supplies. NBC News' Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> we're back with an update tonight on what has become a big, booming business in colorado , the recreational sale of marijuana, ten days after it began, the sales have already topped high demand, and that means sales from stores are running low. more from gabe gutierrez.

>> reporter: at the clinic in denver, ryan cook is selling out faster than he can harvest. there is plenty of medical marijuana left, but when recreational sales became legal in january in colorado , licensed stores had to set aside a certain amount and that supply is going down fast. prices are going up, with extra taxes, the recreational marijuana now costs double than some stores, some merchants are getting more than 500 medical marijuana customers a day, translating to $40,000 in business every day. the owner, robin hackett is one of the sellers rationing their supplies.

>> unless they make changes, we'll be out of marijuana in the next ten days.

>> reporter: adding to the green rush, tourists from all walks of life.

>> many professionals and doctors and many wealthy people.

>> reporter: and the industry is growing elsewhere, washington state plans to allow recreational pot sales by this summer, and alaska may vote on it later this year. and by 2016 we could see ballot measures in oregon, california, maine and massachusetts.

>> this will be a great social experiment of this century.

>> reporter: critics say the budding business is marketing to young people . and while the government is letting states make their own rules, pot is technically illegal under federal law . marijuana users in colorado can still be fired for failing a drug test .

>> employers do hold all the cards now, if businesses want to discipline people tough for their off duty use, they can.

>> this is what we consider to be a perpetual harvest.

>> reporter: a social experiment in high