With the passage of Amendment 64 last week, Colorado removed the prohibition on commercial production, distribution and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes. For now individuals over 21 can legally consume pot in private while possession and transportation of under an ounce within the state is also legal.
Lines stretched for blocks outside of marijuana dispensaries from the capital of Denver to small skiing communities in the Rockies, rivalling lines usually seen with the release of a highly anticipated tech gadget. Even cold conditions didn’t stop pot shoppers as they apparently shivered their way through the long wait to buy marijuana legally.
“It’s a historical event. Everyone should be here,” said Darren Austin, 44, who drove from Georgia and joined a festive crowd gathered in falling snow outside Denver’s 3-D Cannabis store. “This is going to be a turning point in the drug war. A beginning of the peace.”
“It’s pretty surreal out here,” said Marisa Impellizzeri, a 27-year-old master’s student from Kentucky. “I brought my camera to record this historic moment.”
Impellizzeri’s purchase was not a speedy one, as she and the hundreds of other customers at pot shop Evergreen Apothecary were given numbers and told to return in two hours to make their purchases.
However, as it turned out, the pot purchase was not a speedy one, as first customers at pot shop Evergreen Apothecary were given numbers and told to return in two hours to make their purchases. In return for the wait, they were given limited edition certificates to prove they were among the first Americans to ever buy marijuana legally and without a prescription.
Prices have been steep — in some cases, stores were charging $50 or even $70 for one-eighth of an ounce of pot that cost medical marijuana users just $25 the day before — and taxes add on an extra 20% or so. Even so, sales have been brisk.
Matt Brown owns “green” tour company, My 420 Tours — which describes itself as “your best friend in Colorado.”
He said 4,000 people have already signed up for his ganja express, which will include visits with the pot growers, chefs who cook with wacky tobaccy and some of the dozens of shops in and around Denver where it’s now legal for anyone 21 or older to have a date with Mary Jane, says the NY Daily News.
Colorado reportedly had 24 shops open Wednesday, with most of them being located in Denver. Aside from long lines and sporadic reports of shoppers cited for smoking pot in public, which isn’t legal, there were few problems.
As it’s still illegal to smoke in public, tourists who specially arrived for such an opportunity hasa real challenge, because they technically had nowhere to smoke the marijuana they bought because they couldn’t smoke it in their hotel rooms, either.
Even though the tourist information desk at Denver International Airport had a list of the nearly 20 places in the city to buy legal grass, it also remind that tourists that they couldn’t take their pot home with them.
As the Guardian notes, Colorado became the first jurisdiction in the world – beating Washington state and Uruguay by several months – to legalise recreational cannabis sales. Voters approved the measure in a ballot initiative in the November 2012 general election – a landmark challenge to decades of “drug war” dogma which could herald a shift as radical as the end of alcohol prohibition in 1933.
The first customer was Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran who featured in pro-legalisation campaign ads. He bought an eighth of an ounce of an Indica strain called Bubba Kush and some marijuana-infused truffles. Total price, $59.74, including 21.22% sales tax.