The world's first state-licensed pot dealers opened shop on Wednesday in Colorado. Reuters reports that around three dozen weed shops — or dispensaries — opened their doors to the public at 8 a.m. on January 1, making it the place in the United States where a person aged 21 and above can legally purchase marijuana without any reason except that they like to smoke it.
Lines formed around some of the newly licensed shops as patrons eagerly awaited the end of marijuana prohibition in this U.S. state, a decision approved by voters in a referendum last year. State officials say they expect the weed market to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, with some estimates putting the figure as high as half a billion dollars. Taxes collected from these sales could earn the state as much as US$70 million dollars per year.
While there are other places in the world that have decriminalized marijuana, Colorado has taken legalization a step farther, treating weed exactly the same way the law treats other "adult" substances such as alcohol.
As of Wednesday the licensed production and sale of pot and pot-infused foods or drinks is 100 percent legal, with adults being able to purchase up to 28 grams of the product. Coloradoans are also allowed to grow six weed plants at home for personal consumption.
Washington state looks set to follow suit later in the year, albeit with slightly different regulations. Pro-legalization advocates say as many as 15 other states could be moving in the direction of legalization, and there's no doubt many will be watching what happens in America's "Rocky Mountain State" as they decide what to do.
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