Colorado launches world’s 1st legal recreational marijuana market Jan 1: The U.S. state of Colorado will launch the world’s first legal recreational marijuana market on January 1, with a lot riding on the experiment.
Recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21 has already been legal in Colorado for over a year, but retail sales are not allowed until 8am on January 1, 2014. Washington state is the only other U.S. state to have legalized pot, and plans to have stores open by late spring of 2014, say reports.
A Gallup poll earlier this year revealed that 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
Officials, activists, and governments throughout the U.S. and the world will be watching the experiment unfold in Colorado and Washington, and some retailers are investing fortunes into an industry that faces an uncertain future.
The U.S. federal government has banned marijuana since 1937, but for now it is not fighting to try and shut down the industry in the two states.
The big question is this: Will these states be a model for a safe, regulated industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars every year and saves money by not locking up marijuana users as drug criminals, or will they prove that the federal government was right all along to ban the substance since 1937?
Activists and state governments were able to gradually chip away at the federal ban over the years, the first big victory coming in 1996 when California made medical marijuana legal. Now 19 other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws, including Colorado and Washington.
Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved recreational marijuana in 2012.
Some feared that the federal government would sue to block state laws that flouted the federal ban, but that didn’t happen.
The federal government has reportedly said it would not sue as long as the states met an eight-point standard that includes keeping marijuana out of other states and away from children, criminal cartels, and federal property.
The new Colorado law allows adults age 21 and up to buy pot at state-sanctioned marijuana retail stores, and only existing medical dispensaries were allowed to apply for the licenses.
Only a few dozen shops in the state are expected to be open for recreational sales on January 1, according to reports.
A study at Colorado State University estimates the state will make $606 million in marijuana sales in 2014, and the market is expected to grow from 105,000 medical pot users to 643,000 adult users overnight – not counting tourists.