For the first time in 70 years, legal recreational marijuana sales commenced in Colorado Wednesday, marking the beginning of a new year and, many hope, a new era for legalization.
Customers lined up outside roughly 37 stores across the state, which were fully licensed to sell marijuana to anyone 21 and older—no other questions asked—this year, following a statewide ballot initiative in November 2012 when 55% of voters approved legalization in the state.
“The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest financial backer of the campaign in support of Amendment 64. “The state is demonstrating to the rest of the nation and the entire world that regulating marijuana works."
“It’s only a matter of time before lawmakers and voters in more states adopt similar laws regulating marijuana like alcohol,” Kampia said. “The dominoes are falling.”
The Denver Post reports:
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Sales began at 8 a.m., and activists — who passed the marijuana-legalization measure in November 2012 that made the sales possible — arranged a ceremonial "first purchase" at the stroke of 8 at the Denver store 3D Cannabis.
The customer was Sean Azzariti, an Iraq War veteran from Denver who was featured in pro-legalization campaign ads in which he said he hoped to use marijuana to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. The cost of the ceremonial first sale was $59.74.
These words opened the first recreational sales: "It's 8 a.m. I'm going to do it," said Toni Fox, the owner of 3D Cannabis. [...]
While marijuana sales remain illegal under federal law, no place in the world — not even Amsterdam — has gone as far as Colorado to legalize and regulate sales of relatively small amounts of marijuana. Because of that, the sales are expected to draw the world's attention to Colorado on the first day of 2014. Journalists from across the country and the world are in town to mark the moment. And marijuana business owners and tour guides say they expect international tourists as well.