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 726.

    Legalize it!

    Do it David Cameron, you know you want to...

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    713. LaughingJediPanda
    that's a very dishonest comparison
    But that was his comparison. He said an hour after 30g of alcohol vs 30g of THC. I did the calculation for him. The DfT found after high doses:
    i) a more cautious driving style
    (ii) increased variability in lane position (and headway)
    (iii) longer decision times.
    They found little evidence of increased risk of accident.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    the moderator must be a pothead because anybody saying this is a bad idea gets removed whilst all the stoners advocating an illegal activity remain . naughty BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    Cannabis provides soothing, herbal relief from stress and anxiety. Pharmacies use this plant in many medications and lotions. Colorado needs state revenue by vending the item.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    How many 'stoners' end up in A&E each weekend? Probably A LOT less than those out drinking - but that's acceptable because it's taxed. The worst a 'stoner' may have is a bit of indigestion from a bout of the muchies. Like anything, if it's done to excess it has unpleasant side effects. But done in a controlled, safe environment it's perfectly safe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    716.CURTAINS 2012

    It doesn't matter which method you use, alcohol is far, far more dangerous than cannabis. You are still going to OD vaporizing alcohol long before I will from cannabis. You are never going to win this argument, the science and the facts are not in your favour.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 719.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    695.born cynic
    If you're "bored" or your own hypocrisy, exposed @693, perhaps it's time you changed your views...

    *Dope has no deaths from overdose recorded. None.
    Alcohol had 188 in 2010 in the UK alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.


    How sad must you be if you smoke weed for any other reason than pain relief, get a life you boring, socially inadequate, blinkered morons


    Tried it?

    Thought not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    3 Minutes ago
    692.CURTAINS 2012

    What is it you are failing to understand? You can't physically overdose on weed, the human body simply can't smoke ANYWHERE near the amount required to overdose,


    I'll take the vapour from the same weight of burning alcohol to do the test your way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    it may be illegal here in the UK but it is openly smoked everywhere. I cycle through many towns here in the north west and it pervades the air as I go along. Also, one can smell it emanating from many vehicles that bounce down the road as they pass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    680. jauntycyclist
    people self medicating drugs shows that they are ill? why would a normal person take drugs? Only people who are depressed feel the need to get 'high'? i wouldn't employ anyone who self medicates and sack them if they did.
    Forgive me but you come across as naive, intolerant and self-satisfied.
    This world is not just black and white....

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    30g of alcohol would be equivalent to about two pints of premium
    larger. 30g of THC would at 15% purity equate to 200g of weed. That would be about 600 strong joints. After 30g of alcohol you wouldn't notice your intoxication, 600 strong spliffs would knock people out

    2 pints in 30 minutes easy
    600 spliffs 3months+ to smoke

    that's a very dishonest comparison

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    For the nice people out there who might fear anarchy or degradation of society following from Cannabis legalization, please give it a chance ! we've tried prohibition which has led us in circles of crime and punishment back to where we started out. I just hope that the enlightenment spreads and we all get to share in a better future without phony drug wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    "You know I don't see why I should be the criminal
    How can something with no recorded fatalities be illegal
    And how many deaths are there per year from alcohol
    I just completed Gran Tourismo on the hardest setting
    We pose no threat on my settee...
    As I was saying, we're friendly peaceful people
    We're not the ones out there causing trouble.
    We just sit in this hazy bubble..."

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    I used to say, when/if the UK legalized cannabis, I would move back there. Looks like the pendulum has swung the other way, or is swinging. Gay marriage was a no-no just a few years ago, now it is becoming ubiquitous. Pot will most likely be the same way. Just because politicians and those liking to wield power are against it, doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't be able to do our thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    I think this is a step forward, I live in the UK and much prefer smoking £20 worth of weed on a Friday night, having a good laugh with my friends. The alternative being to go to town and spend £60 on alcohol and be sick. For people worried about a place becoming full of stoners, is Colorado now full to the brim with alcoholics? The majority of people can enjoy must things in moderation.

  • Comment number 708.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    I really do not see the need to keep putting poison into our bodies whether that be alcohol, nicotine, or drugs if you need a buzz change your life. All we are doing is building generation after generation of addicts and the need for pleasure through chemicals. enjoy life just as it is without chemicals.


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