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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora