News / USA

Colorado Girds for First-ever Retail Marijuana Sales on New Year's Day

Skylar Hall prepares marijuana buds for sale at the Botana Care store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado, Dec. 31, 2013.
Skylar Hall prepares marijuana buds for sale at the Botana Care store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado, Dec. 31, 2013.
Reuters
Inside a warehouse tucked away in this blue-collar suburb north of Denver a trio of workers feverishly rolled hundreds of marijuana cigarettes by hand in preparation for Colorado's opening of recreational pot stores on New Year's Day.

”We expect to have 2,000 joints ready to go by the time we open on January first,” said Robin Hackett, 51, co-owner of Botana Care, one of about a dozen newly licensed retailers cleared by state regulators to sell recreational pot starting on Wednesday.

Hackett and fellow marijuana proprietors in Colorado are pioneers in a new chapter of America's drug culture that marks the first time cannabis will be legally produced, sold and taxed under a special system many states have long established for alcohol sales.

In fact, experts say, no such framework for commercial marijuana distribution exists anywhere else in the world.

One of Hackett's joint rollers, Skyler Hall, 23, moved to Colorado from South Carolina several months ago and began volunteering at the store before he was hired.

”If it's going to grow the way we think it is, this could be a good opportunity,” Hall said.

Along with Washington state, Colorado legalized possession and use of small amounts of cannabis by adults for non-medical purposes - that is, strictly for the fun of it - under a statewide ballot measure approved by voters in November 2012.

But Colorado, already one of nearly 20 states with medical marijuana laws on its books, has led the way in establishing a legitimate market for recreational pot. The first businesses licensed for the new industry were shops already approved to operate as medical marijuana dispensaries.

Washington state is slated to open its own retail recreational shops later in 2014.

Once Colorado's system is fully in place, state authorities project wholesale and retail sales of cannabis products will total $578 million in annual revenues, which will generate $67 million in sales tax receipts for the state.

'Beginning of the end'

Even as Colorado and Washington move forward with their respective regulatory schemes, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though the Obama administration has said it will give individual states leeway to permit recreational use.

Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a statement that the Colorado and Washington votes marks “the beginning of the end” for marijuana prohibition at the national level.

”By legalizing marijuana, Colorado has stopped the needless and racially biased enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws,” Edwards said.

But opponents warned on Tuesday that legalizing the drug's recreational use in the two Western states could help create an industry intent on attracting underage users and getting more people dependent on the drug.

Comparing the nascent pot market to the alcohol industry, former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told reporters on a conference call that his group aims to curtail marijuana advertising and to help push local bans on the drug while the industry is still modest in stature.

”This is a battle that if we catch it early enough, we can prevent some of the most egregious adverse impacts that have happened as a result of the commercialized market that promotes alcohol use to young people,” he said.

Under Colorado law, however, state residents can only buy as much as an ounce of marijuana at a time, while out-of-state visitors are restricted to quarter-ounce purchases.

'King Tut' and 'Gypsy Girl'

Curiosity-seekers expecting to see hoards of revelers lighting up joints and pipes on the streets of Colorado at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve may be disappointed.

Officials in Denver have posted signs at the airport and around downtown warning that pot shops can only operate during certain hours and that open, public consumption of weed remains illegal.

A widely advertised New Year's Eve “Cannabition” event at a Denver dance club was canceled after city officials warned organizers that the planned soiree could cost the establishment its liquor license, and lead to civil and criminal penalties.

Back at Botana Care, Hackett said she expects between 800 and 1,000 customers to patronize her store on opening day.

The store has hired a private security firm to help with traffic and parking issues that could arise from the anticipated crush.

Hackett said she has 50 pounds of product on hand, and to avoid a supply shortage the shop will limit purchases to quarter-ounces on Day One, whether in joints, buds or cannabis-infused edibles such as pastries or candies.

A quarter-ounce sampler packet with seven strains of weed dubbed with such names as “King Tut” and “Gypsy Girl” - each said to produce a different kind of high - will retail for $85 to $90, including tax, Hackett said.

Botana Care will also sell such related wares as pipes, bongs, and re-usable, locking child-proof pouches.

Because there is a six-month moratorium on additional businesses applying for a second wave of retail licenses, Botana Care is the only recreational marijuana shop north of Denver, and Hackett predicts grossing $13 million in the first year.

”We don't have any competition,” she said.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: oladesu sunday from: nigeria
January 01, 2014 2:14 PM
Is America actually God's own country or the devil's hideout.


by: ahmed abubakar from: nigeria
January 01, 2014 9:03 AM
With this wave of legalizing Gun.Marijuana and Man toman and Woman to woman marriages how safe will America be

In Response

by: Carmen
January 01, 2014 9:47 AM
it's unfortunate to have such a ignorant people in this world that would think that just because you're gay the world will not be safe its people like you that the world is not Safe from. I'm gay and I'm proud and I don't pose a threat on anyone


by: RevRayGreen from: Colorado Springs
December 31, 2013 9:38 PM
so glad I moved here......

In Response

by: Jim from: Uk
January 01, 2014 3:10 PM
I don't see anyone wanting to go and live in Nigeria I wonder why. Can you explain why so many of your country men live in the USA and the uk freedom it's a wonderful thing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid