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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs