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 86.

    This is a good thing. Its about time people were allowed to exercise personal responsibility over their private lives. There are many things we do that aren't good for us but as long as we don't risk others safety we should be free to do them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The middle class sandal wearing intellectuals here will make arguments for legal cannabis use maybe go and see the useless low life's all over the poorer parts of town whose heads are pickled by doing nowt but drinking, popping out kids without responsibility, never working, being unemployable, committing crime and anti social behaviour - sit around smoking weed all day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Less harmful than alcohol, yes probably, bit not risk-free.

    Quote from the Royal Society of Psychiatrists:

    "...If you start smoking it before the age of 15, you are 4 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder by the time you are 26. They found no evidence of self-medication. It seemed that, the more cannabis someone used, the more likely they were to develop symptoms."

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I think the better thing to do is sit and watch how this plays out. I'm quite hopeful that this will prove beneficial to the state of Colorado. In a perfect world maybe they can use funds raised via taxation on helping reduce the impact of drugs that actually harm society, crack, heroin and alcohol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I believe this is the time for educated debate, and not petty name calling. I have worked in drug rehab for many years, and while the evidence supports the fact that cannabis alone is relatively harmless,many users of hard drugs also admit starting on cannabis, and then wanting a stronger and more powerful "kick" which in turn leads to addiction and its problems

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    the financial benefits argument falls down because you either give your money to criminals when you buy from on the street pushers or you can now also give to money to criminals when you buy off the government!

    thats without even going into how the CIA have been importing and selling drugs in the USA for 40 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Makes good sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    The majority of the idiots using such drugs are completely oblivious to the mixing of drink and drugs which most of them DO ! are completely immune to the damage they cause on Thursday Friday Saturday nights in most city and town centres.

    long custodial sentences are the answer ask anyone who has had the misfortune to suffer at the hands of a junkie with no control over its behaviours

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Weed is a massive health benefit it is far superior to alcohol in every way. It should never be banned anyone who say's no is committing the biggest crime against humanity, The should be the right to freedom and independent liberty everywhere. Colorado is progressive however it is the way it should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    "I'm pretty sure that there isn't a black market in alcohol (at least not in the UK)"

    Please say you're joking, there's a huge black market in alcohol in this country!

    According to HMRC, at least 1 in 8 bottles of spirits are smuggled, and they've no idea how much beer as the quantity if so vast (but they estimate the country loses £3B a year in VAT alone).

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I'm pretty sure Cannabis wouldn't make me feel this ill,
    unlike last nights alcohol

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.


    It won't stop the illegal use of cannabis as in the UK there is a massive problem with illeal tobacco and alcohol.
    That's just your opinion. It's down to market forces. If tax makes stuff too dear you create a smuggler's market. So it's not an argument against legalising its use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    @Truth logic sustainability the final frontiers: chances are, the dealers will focus on the more profitable illegal drugs.

    @sarah: the same way they (the police) approach drink (and drug) driving now. Hair and blood samples will catch doped drivers.

    @empiredown: hyperbolic statements are more likely to bring down an empire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The usual argument from the people to allow drugs is that something else causes more harm. Alcohol is the usual one stated, forgetting that Govt. are trying to do something to limit the damage. Smoking is another drug often quoted but again fails to acknowledge the steps Govt. have successfully taken to reduce deaths. Why legalise another harmful drug Govt. will have to deal with later on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    @8. Chewbacca stole my Girlfriend - as far as I know, people who drink alcohol experience the same things if they indulge to excess... really, why all the fuss? Is the Netherlands a total den of iniquity? They allow people to smoke marijuana there too...

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    52uth" prohibition of alcohol did nothing for public health, but did enrich some pretty nasty criminals."
    The first part is not actually true.Booze was a huge problem, and prohibition did stabilize a lot of families who had suffered through it. The second part is right on the money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    There are so many benefits to doing this, the tax revenue, the reduction of time in policing, farming and manufacturing. It could rejuvante the high street too!

    The only losers seem to be the criminals who currently control the supply.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    What is happening to the prices of vehicle insurance in Colorado?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Finally politicians are waking up, I think..........


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