US (DC): Dispensaries say they face shortages because growers restrict their supply

Every week, Norbert Pickett orders cannabis from each of D.C.’s eight cultivators to restock the shelves of his small medical dispensary, Cannabliss, located on the East side of the Anacostia River in Deanwood.

To keep costs down, Pickett tries to order cannabis flower—which makes up 90% of his sales—in bulk, by the pound or the half-pound. But he’s usually only able to get a few grams of the strains he wants.

Since opening his shop two years ago, Pickett says he regularly runs into issues with cultivators that won’t supply him the amounts he needs to meet a growing demand from patients. “It's been a struggle, we would order pounds of strains and we would get grams, sometimes nine grams, sometimes 14 grams,” Pickett said. “Sometimes we wouldn’t even get what we ordered at all.”

It’s an issue common to many of D.C.’s standalone dispensaries, shops that aren’t owned—whether fully, or in part—by a cultivation center. Though Pickett has a license to sell medical cannabis, he’s not authorized to grow, and depends on cultivation centers to stock up. But many of his suppliers are also direct competitors: a majority of D.C. cultivators are vertically integrated, meaning they grow cannabis and sell it, too.


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