Connecticut faces flower shortage

Higher purchasing limits and hot holiday sales combined to reduce available products.

Connecticut had a smoking hot year when it comes to cannabis sales. So good that the state’s dispensaries aren’t sitting on much inventory at the moment.

According to a recent report from Cannabis Benchmarks, supplies for both adult-use and medical dispensaries have been shrinking in the state – and prices have risen as a result.

Consumers celebrated the state’s decision to increase the limits on cannabis purchases as of Dec. 1, and they responded by buying a lot more cannabis. Prior to that date, they could only buy a quarter-ounce, but the new rule upped that limit to a half-ounce of flower or its equivalent in other products.

In December, the state reported sales of 453,944 products in the adult-use market, up 13.4% month-on-month. Medical products sold in December totaled 291,133, up 3.4% from the prior month.

Prices began spiking in the new year, and Cannabis Benchmarks reported that “consumers and registered patients in the state have told of a lack of inventory in dispensaries at the moment, with only a handful of varieties of flower on offer compared to the usual several dozen.”

Kaitlyn Krasselt, communications director with the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection, told Cannabis Benchmarks, “The Department is aware of a limited variety of certain products, and is continuing to monitor the situation.”

“The limited variety is likely the result of promotional sales retailers ran in association with the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s,” Krasselt continued. “Anecdotally, we know retailers experienced heavy traffic in relation to the holidays, and the record sales in our December data supports that. ”

But consumers also have something to look forward to, according to the agency. Kresselt said, “More than 1,000 products have received brand registration approval from the Drug Control Division since Nov. 1, 2023, that are expected to be available in stores in the coming days and weeks.”

Demand High, Supply Low

Fine Fettle, which has several stores in the state, confirmed the shortage.

“Right now we are supply constrained,” Chief Operating Officer Ben Zachs said. “A number of dispensaries have opened and only one microprocessor is growing. We’ve opened more stores and there’s definitely been a lack of flower supply.”

While sales figures were up in the state in December, Zachs said much of that was due to the higher prices. “The actual volume of sales only went up 3%.”

However, he believes hope is on the way. “My understanding is there are microgrowers building and big growers building,” he said. Zachs hopes the problem will be resolved in six to eight months, adding that these things happen in new markets.

“More demand and more stores opening has spread the inventory thin,” Zachs said. “Before it was a lack of choice, now some stores have no flower.”

He also pointed out that overall, flower and pre-rolls only accounted for 50% of sales, which is comparatively low for newer markets.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


2 comments

  • Concerned Patient

    January 23, 2024 at 2:13 pm

    This whole issue is a function of the Corrupticut policies playing out to ensure constrained competition. Create impossibly high barriers to entry and gate keep so that only politically connected/wealthy applicants receive approval. Then when the established growers cannot yield safe flower, let them irradiate/remediate the product so that it is able to pass minimum standards. Why do you think the State of CT increased the permissible toxicity by a factor of 10X?

    Maybe the subtext should read: Corruption High, Integrity Low

    Reply

  • Lester Polyester

    February 1, 2024 at 7:52 am

    Connecticut has done what it’s best at: ruin a potentially good thing. As a medical patient, it’s cheaper for me to drive 90 minutes to Massachusetts and pay the recreational prices and taxes than it is to go to my local dispensary with my medical card. And the added bonus is variety and superior quality.

    Reply

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