Colorado's Marijuana Sales To Start
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Colorado's Marijuana Sales To Start
Posted by CN Staff on December 29, 2013 at 11:21:02 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Denver -- A gleaming white Apple store of weed is how Andy Williams sees his new Denver marijuana dispensary. Two floors of pot-growing rooms will have windows showing the shopping public how the mind-altering plant is grown. Shoppers will be able to peruse drying marijuana buds and see pot trimmers at work separating the valuable flowers from the less-prized stems and leaves. 	“It’s going to be all white and beautiful,” the 45-year-old ex-industrial engineer explains, excitedly gesturing around what just a few weeks ago was an empty warehouse space that will eventually house 40,000 square feet of cannabis strains.
As Colorado prepares to be the first in the nation to allow recreational pot sales, opening Jan. 1, hopeful retailers like Williams are investing their fortunes into the legal recreational pot world — all for a chance to build even bigger ones in a fledgling industry that faces an uncertain future.Officials in Colorado and Washington, the other state where recreational pot goes on sale in mid-2014, as well as activists, policymakers and governments from around the U.S. and across the world will not be the only ones watching the experiment unfold.So too will the U.S. Department of Justice, which for now is not fighting to shut down the industries.“We are building an impressive showcase for the world, to show them this is an industry,” Williams says, as the scent of marijuana competes with the smell of sawdust and wet paint in the cavernous store where he hopes to sell pot just like a bottle of wine.Will it be a showcase for a safe, regulated pot industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year and saves money on locking up drug criminals, or one that will prove, once and for all, that the federal government has been right to ban pot since 1937?Cannabis was grown legally in the U.S. for centuries, even by George Washington. After Prohibition’s end in the 1930s, federal authorities turned their sights on pot. The 1936 propaganda film “Reefer Madness” warned the public about a plant capable of turning people into mindless criminals.Over the years, pot activists and state governments managed to chip away at the ban, their first big victory coming in 1996 when California allowed medical marijuana. Today, 19 other states, including Colorado and Washington, and the District of Columbia have similar laws.Those in the business were nervous, fearing that federal agents would raid their shops.“It was scary,” recalls Williams, who along with his brother borrowed some $630,000 from parents and relatives to open Medicine Man in 2009. “I literally had dreams multiple times a week where I was in prison and couldn’t see my wife or my child. Lot of sleepless nights.”That same year, the Justice Department told federal prosecutors they should not focus investigative resources on patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws — but the department reserved the right to step in if there was abuse.In Colorado, the industry took off. Shops advertised on billboards and radio. Pot-growing warehouses along Interstate 70 in Denver grew so big that motorists started calling one stretch the “Green Zone” for its frequent skunky odor of pot.The city at one point had more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks coffee shops, with some neighborhoods crowded with dispensary sign-wavers and banners offering free joints for new customers. Local officials have since ratcheted back such in-your-face ads.But the marijuana movement didn’t stop. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved recreational pot in 2012, sold in part on spending less to lock up drug criminals and the potential for new tax dollars to fund state programs.The votes raised new questions about whether the federal government would sue to block laws flouting federal drug law. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper famously warned residents not to “break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” and activists predicated a legal showdown.That didn’t happen. In August, the DOJ said it wouldn’t sue so long as the states met an eight-point standard that includes keeping pot out of other states and away from children, criminal cartels and federal property.Colorado law allows adults 21 and older to buy pot at state-sanctioned pot retail stores, and state regulations forbid businesses from advertising in places where children are likely see their pitches.Only existing medical dispensaries were allowed to apply for licenses, an effort to prevent another proliferation of pot shops. Only a few dozen shops statewide are expected to be open for recreational sales on New Year’s Day.Continue Reading Legal pot’s potential has spawned businesses beyond retail shops. Marijuana-testing companies have popped up, checking regulated weed for potency and screening for harmful molds. Gardening courses charge hundreds to show people how to grow weed at home.Tourism companies take curious tourists to glass-blowing shops where elaborate smoking pipes are made. One has clients willing to spend up to $10,000 for a week in a luxury ski resort and a private concierge to show them the state’s pot industry.Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, maker of pot-infused foods and drinks, is making new labels for the recreational market and expanding production on everything from crispy rice treats to fruit lozenges.“The genie is out of the bottle,” says company president Tripp Keber. “I think it’s going to be an exciting time over the next 24 to 48 months.”It’s easy to see why the industry is attracting so many people. A Colorado State University study estimates the state will ring up $606 million in sales next year, and the market will grow from 105,000 medical pot users to 643,000 adult users overnight - and that’s not counting tourists.Toni Fox, owner of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, anticipates shoppers camping overnight to await her first-day 8 a.m. opening. She’s thinking of using airport-security-line-style ropes to corral shoppers, and suspects she’s going to run out of pot.A longtime marijuana legalization advocate, she knows it’s a crucial moment for the movement.“We have to show that this can work,” she says. “It has to.”The challenges, activists and regulators say, are daunting in Colorado and Washington.One of the biggest questions is whether they have built an industry that will not only draw in tens of millions of dollars in revenue but also make a significant dent in the illegal market. Another is whether the regulatory system is up to the task of controlling a drug that’s never been regulated.There are public health and law enforcement concerns, including whether wide availability of a drug with a generations-old stigma of ruining lives will lead to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime.As state officials watch for signs of trouble, they will also have to make sure they don’t run afoul of the DOJ’s conditions.To stop the drug from getting smuggled out of state, regulators in both states are using a radio-frequency surveillance system developed to track pot from the greenhouses to the stores and have set low purchasing limits for non-residents.Officials concede that there’s little they can do to prevent marijuana from ending up in suitcases on the next flight out. The sheriff in the Colorado county where Aspen is located has suggested placing an “amnesty box” at the city’s small airport to encourage visitors to drop off their extra bud.To prevent the criminal element from getting a foothold, regulators have enacted residency requirements for business owners, banned out-of-state investment and run background checks on every applicant for a license to sell or grow the plant.Whether the systems are enough is anyone’s guess.For now, all the focus is on 2014. This being Colorado, there will be more than a few joints lit up on New Year’s Eve. Pot fans plan to don 1920s-era attire for a “Prohibition Is Over!” party and take turns using concentrated pot inside the “dab bus.”Williams says he’s done everything he can, including hiring seven additional staffers to handle customers. All he has to do is open the doors.“Are we ready to go? Yes,” he says. “What’s going to happen? I don’t know.”Source: Associated Press (Wire) Published:  December 29, 2013Copyright: 2013 The Associated PressCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archives 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 30, 2013 at 06:19:29 PT
It would be nice to meet you someday too! I met Afterburner a few years back and it was great. I met Kaptinemo too!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by FoM on December 30, 2013 at 06:17:51 PT
I love that song!
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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on December 30, 2013 at 04:59:27 PT
FoM #8
John Denver and the spirit of Colorado:John Denver Calypso
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on December 29, 2013 at 21:28:40 PT
Hemp Hotels... cool idea, Hemp World.
The GCW... *Big Smile*.
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Comment #9 posted by HempWorld on December 29, 2013 at 20:11:32 PT
Thank you FoM!
for your kind words, I would love to meet you in person some day...
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 29, 2013 at 19:48:14 PT
I think that is a really good idea. Rocky Mountain High will be truly Rocky Mountain High. I have always loved Colorado even though I have only driven thru the state. Ever since John Denver's music Colorado was a place I thought was special. 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 29, 2013 at 19:44:53 PT
The eyes of the world are on Colorado. They talk about it on MSNBC News Channel frequently. They are calling it Reefer Gladness. It is all good.
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on December 29, 2013 at 18:50:58 PT
That story in #4:It's huge.Colorado is the center of the universe.Washington is way cool. I've gone sea kayaking there in the San Juan's a few plus times. God-Awesome. I've paddled into places to pick up more wine... Friday Harbor, etc. But Colorado in / on Jan. 1st, that's ski time. People have flown to Amsterdam for years and now can drive to Colorado. Fly to Colorado. The skiing is God-Awesome.HIstory is being made; it's already legal. History will be made on Jan. 1st when citizens of Earth will walk into a Colorado business and purchase cannabis.International news! But it will not be easy. Citizens will still have to choose between all the choices of buds!It WILL NOT BE EASY!
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Comment #5 posted by HempWorld on December 29, 2013 at 18:38:48 PT
HempHotels Anyone?
4 Star Hotel Downtown Denver!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 29, 2013 at 17:29:27 PT
Blazing Cannabis Trail US States Eye Tourism Surge
By Michael Thurston (AFP) Los Angeles — Marijuana users in Colorado and Washington are counting down the hours before the western US states become the first to legalize recreational pot shops on January 1.Blazing a trail they hope will be followed in other parts of the United States, cannabis growers and others are also rubbing their hands, while tax collectors are eyeing the revenue the newly-legalized trade will generate.Enterprising companies are even offering marijuana tours to cash in on tourists expected to be attracted to a Netherlands-style pot culture -- including in Colorado's famous ski resorts."Just the novelty alone is bringing people from everywhere," said Adam Raleigh of cannabis supplier Telluride Bud Co."I have people driving in from Texas, Arizona, Utah... to be a part of history."Over the last month I have received somewhere between four to six emails a day and five to 10 phone calls a day asking all about the law and when should people plan their ski trip to go along with cannabis," he added.Medical marijuana is already legal and regulated in 19 US states, and has been allowed in some cases for the past 20 years. And in most of them, private consumption of cannabis is not classified as a crime.But Colorado and Washington are creating a recreational market in which local authorities will oversee growing, distribution and marketing -- all of it legal -- for people to get high just for the fun of it.The market is huge: from $1.4 billion in medical marijuana in 2013 it will grow by 64 percent to $2.34 billion in 2014 with recreational pot added in Colorado and Washington, according to Arcview Market Research, which tracks and publishes data on the cannabis industry.Both states legalized recreational consumption of marijuana in referendums in November last year, but new rules coming into force on January 1 allow cannabis shops.In Colorado, famous for its Rocky Mountain ski resorts, officials this week issued 348 retail marijuana licenses including for small shops which from January 1 can sell up to 28 grams of pot to people aged 21 or older.Washington state authorities have received applications for 3,746 marijuana business licenses, including 867 retail licenses, according to The Seattle Times newspaper, which urged caution in an editorial."Legalization of marijuana (is) a seismic change in drug-control policy, perhaps the biggest since the end of alcohol prohibition. Supporters and skeptics need to take a deep breath," it said.Colorado's branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said everyone will benefit."It will mean jobs, tax revenue for the state and local jurisdictions, increased tourism, and a developing progressive new industry in Colorado," NORML attorney Rachel Gillette told AFP."It will also have an impact in that marijuana sales will be brought out of the shadows and the black market," she added.Michael Elliott, head of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, noted that Colorado has licensed medical marijuana businesses since 2010, but said the influx of tourists for recreational use of pot could lead to shortages."It's tough to know whether supply will meet demand, mainly because it's tough to know the impact of tourism on this new market," he said."It looks like demand will exceed supply, so I anticipate that prices in Colorado will go up ... But as time goes on, more businesses will open meaning there will be more supply," he added.Telluride Bud Co's Raleigh compared decriminalizing pot shops to legalizing same-sex weddings, which are now allowed in more than a third of US states."Give it six months, and when other states see that the sky didn't fall and the revenue we are producing, I believe this will spread just like gay marriage," he said. "You just can't stop the will of the people."Copyright: 2013 AFP
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 29, 2013 at 17:15:05 PT
I agree. This could be the real beginning of the end if Colorado is successful. I hope we get a lot of TV news on January 1st about it.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on December 29, 2013 at 16:09:02 PT
This is so exciting.
The beginning of the end of a terrible time in human history.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 29, 2013 at 11:24:43 PT
Used The Wrong Icon
This isn't a medical marijuana article. Sorry!
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