Colorado Marijuana Retail Shops Open For Business
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
New Year’s Day was paradise for stoners who spent the holiday in Colorado welcoming in a new era of legalized marijuana.
The world’s first state-licensed marijuana retailers opened shop on Wednesday as the law voted on in 2012 went into effect at the start of the year. Businesses opened to long lines, some 500 to 1,000 people deep, with supplies beginning to run low right from the start.
Colorado already had laws into place for medical marijuana use, as well as dispensaries set up for that purpose, so the transition was easier than what Washington is facing right now. Washington voters also voted to legalize marijuana in the state in 2012, but the lawmakers are facing an uphill battle trying to set up how the system will work.
According to a report by Reuters, Colorado officials believe the cannabis market will gross $578 million in annual revenues, including $67 million in tax receipts for the 25 percent tax.
State laws have made it legal for people 21 years of age and older to purchase marijuana through a licensed shop. Colorado residents are allowed to buy as much as an ounce of pot at a time, while out-of-state visitors can purchase a quarter-ounce. However, shop owners limited purchases to a quarter ounce on Wednesday in order to try and avoid a supply shortage.
Reuters reported that two people from Blanchester, Ohio waited since 2:30 a.m. for the doors of the shop to open. Brandon Harris told the news agency that they wanted to be the first people from Ohio to buy marijuana legally. Harris said that he and his friend are planning on staying in Colorado and becoming residents.
Shop owners are selling customers more than just joints and supplies. They are also providing anything from raw bud to cannabis-infused edibles and soaps. Stores also are selling supplies like pipes, rolling papers and bongs.
Although Colorado residents are able to toke up without worry from local police, marijuana still remains an illegal narcotic under federal law. However, the Obama administration said that it will give states leeway to carry out their own recreational-use statues.
While marijuana users in Colorado are able to purchase pot legally, they do not have the freedom of just lighting up anywhere. A law passed towards the end of 2013 made it so that marijuana consumption could only be done in the privacy of a home, and not in a public place like a park.
According to the Marijuana Enforcement Division, more than 350 retail marijuana licenses have been issued to Colorado businesses. The agency said that the licenses include 136 pot shops, 178 cultivation facilities and three testing sites. Only a fraction of these shops actually cleared the inspection hurdles before New Year’s Day, leaving demand high and supply low.
Sean Azzariti, an Iraq War veteran, was the first to purchase marijuana at 8:00 a.m. from the Denver store 3D Cannabis, according to the Denver Post. The war veteran says he uses cannabis to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Azzariti bought an ounce of the marijuana strain Bubba Kush and a package of marijuana-infused candy truffles, totaling $59.74 including the $10.46 tax.
Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown told Denver Post that he was surprised by the mellow crowd he witnessed at the Medicine Man dispensary in Denver.
“It’s kind of a relief, frankly,” he told the Post. “This could have gone a lot of different ways. So far, so good.”