MASSACHUSETTS (NEWS10) — Licensed state marijuana retailers face consistent supply shortages even as the black market continues to thrive.

Legal sales of recreational marijuana brought in over $445 million in revenues for distributors and growers in Massachusetts last year, says the Cannabis Control Commission.

According to MarketWatch, investment analysts predict that the state could bring $900 million in legal weed sales in 2020. Against the state’s gross domestic product of around $570 billion, this could represent as much as 1.6% of the state’s economy.

Still, there isn’t enough marijuana to meet the steady demand. Prices are some of the most expensive in the country, inflated by the limited supply. By law, retailers can only buy from licensed growers in the state, yet the scarcity of licenses slows the flow of the hot commodity.

Massachusetts passed measures in 2018 giving first dibs on licenses to individuals previously imprisoned for pot-related offenses.

Without acting on these social equality initiatives, low-level offenders would spend decades in prison while entrepreneurs make millions selling the same product. In 2013, three-fourths of prisoners with mandatory minimum drug sentences were Latino or black even though they make up less than one-quarter of the state’s population.

Those critical of the system, however, say that delays come from a reluctance to award licenses to those former convicts. Instead, they say, officials award as few licenses as possible, which results in illegal transactions and a choked marketplace.