Colorado's brand-new pot economy already has growing pains
New Year's Day marked marijuana's entry into the legitimate free market as Colorado became the first U.S. state to allow retail pot sales, and the nascent industry already sees potential supply issues and price increases, the Denver Post's marijuana editor told CNBC on Thursday.
Ricardo Baca, recently named editor of theCannabist.co, said he saw one retail pot dispensary raise the price of an eighth of an ounce of grass to $45 from $25 in the face of high demand.
Another dispensary began limiting purchases to an eighth of an ounce so that it could serve more customers, he added. Under Colorado's new pot laws, out-of-state residents can buy up to one-quarter of an ounce, while state residents can buy an ounce.
(Read more: Chart of the Day: Is pot cheap now in Denver?)
"It was interesting to see the free market take over here," Baca told "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday. "It wouldn't surprise me if we saw a shortage of marijuana in Colorado."
After watching a full day of retail marijuana sales, Baca said one big question remains: How much cheaper or more expensive is legal recreational marijuana compared with product from a medical marijuana dispensary or an old-school dealer?
"It's the big question right now," he said. "Everybody wants to have that straightforward comparison buying Grand Daddy Purple in the street, versus the dispensary, and the retail pot shop. What are the basic differences?"
(Read more: High Times aiming for $100M marijuana fund)
Baca said he has heard from readers that, considering taxes, black market pot is cheaper than legal, though prices for the latter vary widely.
Legal pot's "spin-off" businesses extend to media. The Cannabist, which went live this week, plans to cover stoner-friendly beats like video games and cooking with cannabis.
"We have already been reporting on the news of medical marijuana since it was legalized in 2000, since the dispensary boom took over in of 2009—now its time for us to start being a part of the conversation in cannabis culture," Baca said. "We're talking about recipes and reviews and even a parenting column."
The new marijuana economics means bigger business for former medical-only dispensaries.
(Read more: Washington plans to keep the weed for locals)
Erin Phillips, the co-founder of Colorado dispensary chain Strainwise, said enthusiasts begin lining up outside its storefronts as early 6 a.m. Wednesday. Sales were nearly triple its busiest day last year, April 20, or 4:20—an important number in pot folklore.
"The exciting thing for us was the number of tourists that we saw," Phillips said on "Squawk on the Street." "It was very exciting. We had lines forming between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and we had a two- to three-hour wait in some locations. People were excited to actually get in."
(Read more: WeedMaps: Meet the Yelp of the marijuana business)
They didn't just buy plain-old marijuana, either. They dabbled with innovative products, including top-shelf "caviar sticks," or marijuana soaked in hash oil and then rolled into a joint, Phillips said. Another big seller: preloaded hash oil cartridges designed for vaporizers.
"It was an interesting experience because once they got into the door, they were like a kid in a candy store," she said. "People were taking pictures. They were jumping up and down. They were excited."
—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."