Cannabis goes on legal sale in US state of Colorado

David Martinez, manager of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, on 31 December 2013 Shops selling cannabis have been preparing for a huge influx of customers on their first day of trading

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The US state of Colorado is making history by becoming the first to allow stores to sell cannabis.

As many as 30 stores around the state are expected to start selling the drug for recreational purposes from 1 January, dubbed Green Wednesday.

Colorado, along with Washington state, voted to legalise the use and possession of cannabis for people over the age of 21 in November 2012.

Washington is not expected to allow the sale of it until later in 2014.

Colorado and Washington are among 20 states to have approved marijuana use for medical purposes. The drug is still illegal under federal law.

'Who knows?'

Store owners had stocked up, prepared celebrations and hired extra security in preparation for their opening on Green Wednesday.

Start Quote

It's almost the worst of both worlds”

End Quote Kevin Sabet Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Under the new law, cannabis will be sold like alcohol. Residents will be able to buy up to one ounce, while those from out of the state can purchase up to a quarter of an ounce.

Cannabis can only be smoked on private premises, with the permission of the owners.

The sale of the drug will be taxed in the same way as alcohol, and state officials have said they expected it to raise millions - the first $40m of which will be used for school construction, The Denver Post reports.

It was not clear exactly how many shops were expected to open on New Year's Day, though around 30 were listed by The Denver Post.

A total of 136 stores have been given licences to sell marijuana. Most of the shops are based in Denver. Some communities elsewhere in Colorado have exercised their right not to have the stores.

Supporters of legalising cannabis have praised Colorado's move.

Rachel Gillette, of the Colorado branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the state "has found an exit strategy for the failed drug war and I hope other states will follow our lead".

But critics say it sends the wrong message to the nation's youth and fear it will lead to serious public health and social problems.

"There will still need to be a black market to serve people who are ineligible to buy on a legal market, especially kids," said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "It's almost the worst of both worlds."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    Well as a Brit living in Denver, I am interested to see how this works out. I wonder how many will venture out this snowy morning to find a spliff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Waking up in Colorado, I am nervous about what the future will hold, will there be a bunch of stoned youths snowboarding down the mountain once the pot shops open? Will people come here to get stoned? I love Colorado, it is my second home, but I am not sure how this is going to pan out

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    This should prove an interesting experiment for the UK, but as for now I hope the UK does not adopt this move.

    There is a large amount of people in the UK who have and choose to not smoke marijuana, simply due to it being illegal. I have no idea how to access marijuana now, but if sold in stores a significantly increased amount of people will be exposed to the drug and all its negative effects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I'm sure this will make me very unpopular but I question how the police will make sure people are not driving doped up or bring up their kids doped up. Also from a personal point of view it isn't all chilled out, relaxed, grooviness as I found it made me paranoid and crazy. It won't stop the illegal use of cannabis as in the UK there is a massive problem with illeal tobacco and alcohol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    A lot of people are stuck in the mentality of thinking that cannabis is a drug therefore must be harmful and therefore should stay illegal.

    It would be the same for alcohol if it was invented today.
    This prohibition isn't working and if we did control the distribution of cannabis and tax it it could be very profitable for the government. Some of the money could go towards education or healthcare


Comments 5 of 9


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