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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Joseph Effiong from: Nigeria
    January 01, 2014 3:49 PM
    All this is it in the name of human right ? Other drugs should also be legalised. What example is USA showing or send to the world. Gay/lesbian first legalised in USA and now marijuana. When will the USA be governed by God fearing people ?
    In Response

    by: Lab Tech from: Indiana
    January 02, 2014 3:30 PM
    ???? What's up with all of these people from other countries posting on here and making themselves look like illiterate feeble-minded grade-schoolers? This is AMERICA! Land of the free. WE DO WHAT WE WANT. You're drunk Joseph!
    In Response

    by: Robin Dickson from: Chicago
    January 02, 2014 1:15 PM
    in America we have separation of church and state

    you must have a reason other than biblical ones to support
    a law
    In Response

    by: Kevin Hunt
    January 02, 2014 12:05 PM
    "Gay/lesbian first legalised in USA"? It was never illegal to be gay in the USA.
    In Response

    by: BossIlluminati
    January 02, 2014 12:03 PM
    define this evil make believe god we should be scared of? love and freedom will rule forever

    by: Abel Ogah from: Oju, Nigeria
    January 01, 2014 3:26 PM
    Americans must be prepared to face the odds driveable from this unpopular outfit.Crimes of all dimensions will definitely be the increase.
    In Response

    by: Robin Dickson from: Chicago
    January 02, 2014 1:18 PM
    In Colorado this was not an unpopular proposition

    it got 59% of the voters approved it
    In Response

    by: Darryl from: australia
    January 01, 2014 5:55 PM
    About time. This will take the criminal element out of it.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora