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Colorado sells first legal retail marijuana

Wednesday morning, Denver saw approximately three dozen state-licensed retail marijuana stores open their doors to all customers 21 and over. This marked the beginning of the Colorado retail marijuana market established in November 2012 with the passing of amendment 64.

One of the first retail dispensaries, 3-D (Denver’s Discreet Dispensary), held the gathering of the amendment 64 campaign leaders to celebrate the historic day.

The first customer at 3-D was an Iraq war veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. By the time the doors opened at 8 a.m., dozens more customers had already lined up to make a purchase.

“Finally, the world is going to realize that this is a positive, safe thing,” said Tyler Austin, one of the customers standing out in the cold for the doors to open. “This is a new beginning for people to share something.”

Yes on 64 Co-Director Brian Vicante, one of the campaign leaders present for the dispensary opening, commented on the financial benefits that began with the day’s sales.

“When this first sale is made, a significant chunk will be going to the state,” said Vicante. “For decades…all of the money has gone to the underground market and cartels. That stops today.”

It is estimated that Colorado’s retail marijuana market will produce about $400 million in sales next year, which will generate tens of millions in tax revenue for the state.

“Today we’re standing in one of…the businesses across the nation that are creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and contributing to their communities through the regulated and controlled sale of marijuana,” said Betty Aldworth, who was also present for the opening as the advocacy director for Yes on 64.

As the first dispensaries open their doors, some suggest that this marks the beginning of Colorado’s ‘experiment’ with retail marijuana. Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project and co-director of the Amendment 64 campaign, discouraged this view.

“Making marijuana legal for adults is not an experiment,” Tvert said in an MPP press release. “Prohibition was the experiment and the results were abysmal. If we can successfully regulate alcohol,  we can surely regulate a less harmful substance like marijuana.”

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis was supportive of the implementation of this regulation.

“Today Colorado becomes the first state to implement comprehensive marijuana regulation. By regulating marijuana like alcohol, Colorado voters hope to reduce crime and keep marijuana away from kids,” Polis said in a Washington DC press release. “I applaud Colorado’s efforts to implement the will of the voters and will continue my work to pass H.R. 499 to regulate marijuana like alcohol federally.”

Now that Colorado has successfully begun selling retail marijuana, the Marijuana Policy Project, the largest financial backer of the Colorado legislation initiative, has shifted its focus to other states around the nation. Currently, the project is supporting a petition in Alaska to place an initiative on the August 2014 ballot.

Next, MPP plans to focus on passing similar initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada in the November 2016 election. It also plans to actively support efforts to pass bills in the Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont state legislatures.

“Millions of adults use marijuana in the United States,” said Tvert in the press release. “Only in Colorado will they be purchasing it from legitimate, regulated businesses instead of in the underground market. It won’t be long before other states follow suit.”

Collegian Senior Reporter Caitlin Curley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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