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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More