News / USA

First State-licensed Marijuana Shops Open in Colorado

People wait in line to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at the Botana Care store in Northglenn, Colorado, Jan. 1, 2014.
People wait in line to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at the Botana Care store in Northglenn, Colorado, Jan. 1, 2014.
Reuters
The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers legally permitted to sell pot for recreational use to the general public opened for business in Colorado on Wednesday with long lines of customers, marking a new chapter in America's drug culture.

Roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries - newly cleared by state regulators to sell pot to consumers who are interested in nothing more than its mind- and mood-altering properties - began welcoming customers as early as 8 a.m. MST (1500 GMT).

The highly-anticipated New Year's Day opening launched an unprecedented commercial cannabis market that Colorado officials expect will ultimately gross $578 million in annual revenues, including $67 million in tax receipts for the state.

Watch related video by VOA's Mike Richman

US State Permits Sale of Recreational Marijuanai
X
January 02, 2014 8:58 PM
Twenty U.S. states and Washington, D.C., permit marijuana use for medical purposes. The western state of Colorado, however, has become the first state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana. Activists hope the experiment will set a trend around the U.S. and the world. VOA's Mike Richman reports.

Possession, cultivation and private personal consumption of marijuana by adults for the sake of just getting high already has been legal in Colorado for more than a year under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters. As of Wednesday, though, cannabis was being legally produced, sold and taxed in a system modeled after a regime many states have in place for alcohol sales - but which exists for marijuana nowhere in the world outside of Colorado.

Scores of customers lined up in the cold and snow outside at least two Denver-area stores on Wednesday morning waiting for doors to open.

“I wanted to be one of the first to buy pot and no longer be prosecuted for it. This end of prohibition is long overdue,” said Jesse Phillips, 32, an assembly-line worker who was the day's first patron at Botana Care in the Denver suburb of Northglenn. He had camped outside the shop since 1 a.m.

A cheer from about 100 fellow customers waiting in line to buy went up as Phillips made his purchase, an eighth-ounce sampler pack containing four strains of weed - labeled with names such as “King Tut Kush” and “Gypsy Girl” - that sold for $45 including tax. He also bought a child-proof carry pouch required by state regulations to transport his purchase out of the store.

Robin Hackett, 51, co-owner of Botana Care, said before the opening that she expected between 800 to 1,000 first-day customers, and she hired a private security firm to help with any traffic and parking issues that might arise. Hackett said she has 50 lbs [23 kg] of product on hand, and to avoid a supply shortage the shop will limit purchases to quarter-ounces on Wednesday, including joints, raw buds or cannabis-infused edibles, such as pastries or candies.

Turning point in drug culture

Like other stores, Botana Care also stocked related wares, including pipes, rolling papers, bongs, and reusable, locking child-proof pouches.

Voters in Washington state voted to legalize marijuana at the same time Colorado did, in November 2012, but Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later in 2014.

Still, supporters and detractors alike see the two Western states as embarking on an experiment that could mark 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,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project.

Cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, though the Obama administration has said it will give individual states leeway to carry out their own recreational-use statutes.

Nearly 20 states, including Colorado and Washington, had already put themselves at odds with the U.S. government by approving marijuana for medical purposes.

Opponents warned that legalizing recreational use 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. Representative Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said 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 buy as much as an ounce [28 grams] of marijuana at a time, while out-of-state visitors are restricted to quarter-ounce purchases.

Restraint was certainly the message being propagated on New Year's Eve by Colorado authorities, who posted signs at Denver International Airport and elsewhere around the capital warning that pot shops can only operate during approved hours, and that open, public consumption of marijuana remains illegal.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Chris Winchester from: Ft Worth
January 06, 2014 4:00 PM
These guys purchasing marijuana from the pot shops are no different from me buying a six pack after work. It just feels good to relax. Upetty house wive's who read about Colorado's legalization news upon returning home from four hours at the salon and spa may not understand this phenomenon to its full extent. Cursed be the day some self riteous politician breaks down my door and tries to pry a cold bottle of beer from my calloused hands!

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 06, 2014 1:06 AM
It is so sad for me these customers can not feel easy without the help of Marijuana. No matter how the causes makimg them use Marijuana, I am sure it is actually themselves who know most seriously that Marijuana is bad for their health. I hope they will become independent on Marijuana as soon as possible. Thank you.

by: Ada from: Nija
January 03, 2014 2:04 AM
America,wat a shame.

by: Max Ajida from: South Africa
January 02, 2014 1:06 PM
Legalising marijuana will help grow the economies of other countries like Malawi and Swaziland that believed to have the high quality. Let's hope they'll buy from these countries at a reasonable prices since its called their gold.

by: BossIlluminati
January 02, 2014 12:02 PM
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, almost there...all it took was my beautiful cali..

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

by: Joey from: Houston
January 02, 2014 11:28 AM
These comments are hilarous. Sorry to break it to you folks, but marijuana has basically been legal in Colorado for over a decade now, and none of the nonsense you are worried about has materialized. Crime is down, traffic fatalities are down, police are focused on real crimes, and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue have rolled into town, along with thousands of jobs.
In Response

by: Natasha Brodsky
January 02, 2014 2:10 PM
LOVE THIS!! I just took a class on substance abuse and Joey is completely correct. Crime is down! I couldn't be happier with Colorado's choice.

by: Chukwuemeka. Ukor from: Lagos,Nigeria
January 02, 2014 3:52 AM
United States Govt has made the greatest mistake by legalising open selling marijuana, just like their guns.am sorry they will see more violent crimes by the feeble-minded citizens whom their can with-hold such an import as more youths must be bound to experiment.
In Response

by: Natasha Brodsky
January 02, 2014 2:11 PM
Crime is down significantly in Denver since marijuana was legalized. Those are statistical facts.
In Response

by: Robin Dickson from: Chicago
January 02, 2014 1:11 PM

how will legalizing pot lead to violence?

I see no connection

the opposite is true

legalizing marijuana will reduce violence
In Response

by: Kevin Hunt
January 02, 2014 12:04 PM
You make no sense. Learn English before posting again.

by: Anonymous
January 02, 2014 3:16 AM
The dude in the FBI hat looks like the worst person to toke up with ever.

by: darrell from: bc
January 01, 2014 11:09 PM
What has the war on drugs accomplished ?
It has tied up the courts , wasted millions of dollars and time and delayed some trials so much that violent criminals are walking free .
It has given millions a criminal record for nothing more than using a plant of God .
It has caused jail over-crowding .
It has corrupted some police personnel .
It has caused police forces to allocate money and people to cannabis crimes , rather than to violent crimes .
It has caused organized crime to make lots of un-taxed money .
Prohibition didn't work in the 1920s , and created similar problems .
If that is not reason enough to change the laws regarding the use of God's plant , then you must be profiting from keeping it from being legal .

by: Wendy Ferguson from: South Africa
January 01, 2014 10:52 PM
This is what it must have been like when cigarettes were first legalised and look where the human race is now with lung cancer being the highest killer at this time! Marijuana kills brain cells!
In Response

by: Robin Dickson from: Chicago
January 02, 2014 1:13 PM
marijuana does not kill brain cells or cause cancer

the smoke may be harmful but you can use a vaporizer

your country should consider doing the same thing to reduce
gang violence
In Response

by: Tommy Chong from: Denver
January 02, 2014 9:30 AM
So does football Wendy. Why do you care about MY brain cells anyway?
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs