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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  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Its not for me personally ... but how can a plant be taxed ... so its ok to buy it, but not ok to grow it ? ... whatever next a tax on lemons or limes

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.


  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I always thought Colorado was quite high when I visited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    bad idea

    will keep all the boneheads happy though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    hopefully it will break the connection between what is mainly a harmless drug ( and certainly far less harmful than drink) and the drug dealers.
    This is the biggest problem with cannabis that it introduces good meaning but fun seeking people to drug dealers with all its ramifications remove that link and you can reduce harder drug use but politicians only seam more interested in stopping any fun

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    There are lots of smokers here, but I don't see hospitals full of people suffering after effects. It's about time there was a sensible approach to something that people will do anyway. At least it can be regulated and the higher potency plants not used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    About time. I don't use drugs (well - only occasional use of the legal one called alcohol) but it's senseless to have prohibit a product that is in widespread use.

    Maybe oneday our overlords, sorry, overpaid spineless politicians in the UK will start heading in this direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Any mind altering drug is a danger, not just to the consumer but to the wider community, including the one that is sold in bottles in pubs, bars and supermarkets. However adults should be free to make their own decisions and to face the consequences of those decisions without the state nannying them. I'm amazed this isn't getting more coverage it is a massive news story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Good. One small step in the direction of the State not preventing anyone from doing whatever he or she wants to do, provided that it does not adversely affect any third party. Also, perhaps a realisation that occasional use (i.e. not a 'lifestyle' consumption level) is less harmful than ethanol, a drug that is frequently not recognised as such for reasons beyond my comprehension.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    As Ron Paul said, the war on drugs is stupid. All that happens is that governments spend massive amounts of money preventing nothing and criminals get rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Whilst the UK Government OK's the opening of a pub on a Motorway...

    I get the feeling our policy on Alcohol is going to end up hurting a lot more people than Colorado's one on Cannabis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Now if only our government could adopt such a well thought out policy instead of ignoring the reports and advice of the Drug Council. One estimate puts sale of marijuana in the UK as worth £40bn a year, that's a lot of money to let into the hands of drug gangs and criminals. Far better if that money went into the NHS to treat addiction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Last i heard it was going to be about $3 a gram,in Britain its $12 a gram and ALL that money goes straight to criminals,for a drug which is much,much less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes and has never killed a single person EVER!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The UK should do this.

    The anti-drugs battle was lost on streets years ago,

    Ergo clean, crime free supply and enough tax receipts to take us out of austerity....what's not to like?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Let's hope the rest of the country follows suit, along with the UK. Our regressive, ineffective and wrong-headed approach to drug use (the fact we're still told it's a "war" speaks volumes) should have been corrected decades ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    At last I understand the John Denver song, "Rocky mountain high".

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Call me a cynic but in the USA all the users who end up with drug related illnesses will be on their own and will not be treated by an "NHS". So, the state collects the tax with no prospect of having to pay to put right all the damage the product has done. Over here it would be a different matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Stoners are mostly happy chilled out people so its a good experiment, the downside is paranoia, depression and mental 'holes' in your memory after a long period of use so although it might feel cool I wouldn't think about the long term as being rosy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Compared to alcohol, this is a safer form of intoxication. Prohibition as been shown not only to fail to achieve its aims, but also actively encourage criminal organisations. By taking this first and tentative step down the path of logical common sense, I only hope that it turns out to be the huge success it deserves to be


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