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 66.

    @39 Sarah
    "in the UK there is a massive problem with illeal [sic] tobacco and alcohol."

    No there isn't. There's a problem, yes -but it couldn't by any stretch of the imagination be called "massive". And it's nearly all about avoiding VAT and duty, so it doesn't count as a "drug"-related crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    the only problem is though, class-a drug dealers and takers are very likely to pour in Colorado......just like they did in Amsterdam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Just as with alcohol there are different grades and potencies of cannabis, my concern is whether the more genetically engineered 'skunk' variants will be freely available.
    Everything I have read has pointed to police forces wanting cannabis to be legalised so for this reason I see it as a positive move.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Oh if only our idiot politicians would catch up. I'm sick of my money going into the black hole that is a dealers back pocket. Let me pay tax on it for goodness sake! It's not prohibited as you can get it anywhere and everywhere; there is no effective restriction on supply and the 'war' is, was and always will be lost. It's time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Sabet says kids will 'have to buy on the black market' and that legalising 'sends the wrong message'. This is the best that the prohibitionists can come up with? What does 'wrong message' even mean? How does adding a safe semi legitimate source force kids into the black market? Let's hope some of that 40 million education goes towards helping this chap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    For those that are interested, there is a 25% tax on the sales of Cannabis in Colorado, that money will be going towards funding public services, including building more schools, encouraging smarter kids who, admittedly, will probably still experiment but are less likely to be long-term users.

    Basically, it's an idea of digging yourself out with the shovel that was burying you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Right or wrong I don't like the use of the words "for recreational use". It's like asking whether you want a game of football.

    "And what brings you to Colorado, sir ? Business or recreation ?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    If you tried it and it made you a bit paranoid, or you don't like the idea of cannabis, or you have a friend who once told you it could maybe be a bit bad - then its really very simple. Don't buy it. Don't take it.

    But don't go around telling the rest of the world what they should do. Its none of your damn business what other adults get up to in their house.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    The legal drug lobby - alcohol and tobacco - LOATHE this idea, I'm sure, because you can grow your own very easily. Tobacco is fiddly and finicky to grow, alcohol is easy enough to make but illegal to distil without a license, but weed grows as it's name suggests.. they see a huge bite being taken out of their profits and no doubt oppose legalisation.

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Good news! It should be the same over here in Europe. The EU countries could benefit by selling weed and hash. Herb is a plant, nothing more than a great plant who can be used for many other things than just smoking. And look at all the great people that used cannabis, Lennon, Bob Marley, Shakespeare etc... even Micheal Phelps is one of the greatest swimmer and he used cannabis. Didn't effect him

  • 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 54.

    At last someone can see the light!
    This lucrative industry could help save the economy.
    I don't think the powers that be realise how much more widespread cannabis consumption is & how they could set the tone for Europe by taking the lead but no the Tories will do FA as usual!
    If the Tories were a bit more savvy they could gain a lot of votes for the next election by looking into it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    For years people have been debating whether recreational drugs should be legalized, nearly all the arguments have been based on guesswork or from a moral perspective.

    Finally we should be able to see what happens and start introducing evidence and facts into the discussion

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    The US perhaps has more relevant experience in such matters than we in the UK: prohibition of alcohol did nothing for public health, but did enrich some pretty nasty criminals. Repealing prohibtion deprived (some of) those crooks of income, and the product had to be fit for sale (i.e. not rotgut).

    Moreover, making alcohol legally available did not produce a nation of dysfunctional drunks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Progressive and intelligent move by Colorado.

    Something our current Government couldn't manage to do, even by accident.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    They can't control it so legalise it and say it's not a problem. A load of morons all wandering around smoking weed...look at them on Jeremy Kyle. This country is simply deteriorating and this just adds to it. having said that, why should I care about what used to be MY country, it no longer is, the average decent person is screwed over by government and politics, and all morals are in decline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Marc Emery, a Canadian campaigner for liberalisation of cannabis laws is rotting in a prison in the US state of Washington for selling seeds to Americans by post. Outside his prison gates Cannabis is now legally sold and smoked. His sentence of 5 years was a plea bargain, the Americans were threatening him with 10 to life. The Canadian govt just handed him over..bullied by the despicable US govt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Good news.. shame our government are out of touch on this issue like many other issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    clearly you don't understand they already have tests not to mention it is already used by many many millions of people many of which are parents who do not introduce their children to the drug but keep it out of sight. So you would prefer them buying from drug dealers with its ramifications would you?


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