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 46.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    "There will still need to be a black market to serve people who are ineligible to buy on a legal market, especially kids,"
    Really? - That makes no sense what so ever - legalising something will lead to a black market? It is currently illegal for Kids to buy alcohol and I'm pretty sure that there isn't a black market in alcohol (at least not in the UK)

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    60 years too late but ... who's organising the trips from here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    It's not a bad thing, but since when has taxing something made it cheaper than buying from criminals? Cigarettes are legal, yet taxed, so many buy them from from criminals as they're cheaper from illegal sources.

    Additionally, those currently making money from selling marijuana will continue to sell to the heaviest users (those under 21) & will switch to selling other drugs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    @pcs: people could have bought it before so not sure it will increase drug related illnesses. At least legalisation could mean people know what they are buying. Your argument about not having to pay to put right damage done is a fallacy - illness would mean a loss in income tax.

    @chewbacca: alcohol has similar effects. Btw, I am not a fan of cannabis, but as an adult you make your own choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Obama promised HOPE and CHANGE.

    Now they can just get stoned, make no worthwhile CHANGE and watch HOPE vanish, while not caring about that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    At last a measured and adult policy on what is a mostly harmless drug

    Much of everything in the world is harmless, until abused by humans.

    One thing, with illegal sales mainly targetting younger users, criminal profits will drop like a stone as dealers chase a much smaller demographic, hence I can foresee drug gang & turf wars increasingly battle for smaller returns

  • 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 38.

    Time the UK followed suit. Why let criminals make all the money? I expect Colorado will see a mysterious tourist boom in the coming months.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Does that mean everyone in Colorado has to call each other 'Man' from now on?

  • 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

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Gore Vidal felt all drugs
    ought to be decriminalized.
    As time goes by I feel he was correct.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Peter Hitchens will not be enjoying the new year once he's read this...he's such a narrow minded fool!

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    I do see this as part of the moral and social decay in America like the later days of the Roman Empire. In years to come this may well be recorded as the pivotal social policy that leads to the collapse. A generation lost on drugs and a self-inflicted wound caused by weakened political structures, further weakened by these mind altering drugs....substance abuse always leads to the gutter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Sensible idea. Control the drugs and you control the money. No need for drug smugglers, and crime cartels. Tax the product, and the state makes the money not the drug barons

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I'd like a bit, if it was legal of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Jeffrey Archer (a Tory) said that cannabis users in prison switch to heroin because it can be flushed out of the system, and random drug tests can be passed. That's one result of the UK's insane drugs policy.
    When you have top cops calling for reform you know something is wrong. Pity drugs policy is decided by the Daily Mail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The amount of police time that could be freed up would be substantial and they could be put to better use hunting the nastier drugs that exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    At last a common-sense approach to what is after all so much less of a hazard than alcohol. And please don't be fooled by the silly argument that it leads to Class A use - it does not. It's true that many Heroin addicts will have started on cannabis but it's similarly the case that alcoholics started with a beer. Everything in moderation, nothing in excess. Happy days!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I suppose the sale of "munchies" will now go through the roof!

    Those who condemn marijuana use as a "gateway drug" would do well to remember that the dual gateways of tobacco and alcohol have been wide open for years.As long as chemically over-enhanced variants such as skunk are prohibited, I can only see this as a civilised alternative to drinking.


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