Pot smokers in Colorado welcome 'Green Wednesday' as marijuana sales become legal
Stores, including thirteen former medicinal marijuana dispensaries, are now able to sell the formerly illegal drug to customers interested in its recreational properties
Retailers in the US state of Colorado newly licensed to sell recreational cannabis were preparing to open shop on so-called “Green Wednesday”.
Stores, including thirteen former medicinal marijuana dispensaries, are now able to sell the formerly illegal drug to customers interested in its recreational properties.
Proprietors were expected to open their doors at 8am local time in the capital Denver, and a handful of other locations, in anticipation of a surge in demand for store-bought weed.
In one part of the capital, a dispensary had set up a food truck for customers who had camped outside. Meanwhile, revellers ditched sweaters in the unusually balmy weather and alternated between celebrating with horn blowers, and joints and bongs.
State officials expect that the new industry will draw in annual revenues of $578 million, with $67 million coming from tax receipts alone.
While non-medicinal possession, cultivation and private consumption of marijuana was legalised in Colorado over a year ago, cannabis will only now be legally sold to the general public and taxed in a system similarly to alcohol.
Nowhere in the world outside of the northwest state shares this system.
Citizens in Washington state also voted to legalize marijuana at the same time as Colorado in 2012, but is not predicted to open stores until later in the year.
“We understand that Colorado is under a microscope,” Jack Finlaw, lawyer to Governor John Hickenlooper and overseer of a major task force to chart new pot laws, recently told reporters.
Both supporters and opponents to the legalisation of the drug see the two Western states as embarking on an experiment that could mark the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition at a national level.
Video: Colorado's first day of legal marijuana sales
“By legalizing marijuana, Colorado has stopped the needless and racially biased enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project.
Opponents warned that legalizing recreational use could create an industry that would attract underage use and dependency.
Former US Representative and co-founder of Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana Patrick Kennedy, said his group aims to curtail marijuana advertising and to push local bans on the drug.
Authorities in Colorado appear to be heeding the call for caution, with signs around the state capital of Denver warning that cannabis shops can only operate during approved hours, and that public consumption of the drug remains illegal.
Additional reporting by agencies
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the installa...
£30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...
£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...