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First US marijuana stores open in Colorado

DENVER, Colorado -- Marijuana users celebrated Wednesday as Colorado became the first U.S. state to allow retail cannabis sales, putting it in the vanguard of efforts across the country to legalize the drug.

The western state famous for its ski resorts and breathtaking mountain vistas has issued 348 retail licenses — including for small pot shops — that can sell up to 28 grams of pot to people aged 21 or older.

Washington state on the Pacific Coast will follow Colorado several months from now, when it also allows stores to begin selling cannabis.

Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti was the first person to legally purchase cannabis for recreational use in the United States.

“It's an absolute honor, I couldn't be happier. It's a huge stepping stone for other states as well, so it's a huge honor, to say the least,” Azzariti told reporters.

Azzariti, who has campaigned to legalize weed, said marijuana helps alleviate his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

As America's attitudes on marijuana use evolve, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational consumption of the drug in November 2012 referendums, but the new rules coming into force allow cannabis shops.

“It just makes it an item of commerce, like going into a liquor store,” a gray-haired Charles Pierce, 61, told AFP at the Denver Kush Club, where pot fans lined up in the wind and sleet for the 8:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) opening.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he was proud of the city.

“I want to thank the businesses and consumers alike for acting responsibly and with great accountability today,” he said in a statement.

“Denver is a progressive city, a vibrant city, and it's incumbent on all of us to continue getting this right,” Hancock added.

State officials here anticipate that marijuana sales will generate some US$67 million in annual tax revenue.

Opponents of legalized cannabis warn that it can lead to higher rates of marijuana use and addiction, even among young people who technically are not sanctioned to use the drug.

They also say that marijuana users face a raft of health and psychiatric problems, noting that pot is often a gateway drug that can lead to abuse of more serious substances.

Supporters hailed its legalization — and legal sale — in Colorado as historic, and a possible sign of things to come elsewhere.

“The state is demonstrating to the rest of the nation and the entire world that regulating marijuana works,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, one of the leading backers of the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.

1 Comment
January 3, 2014    Brian_Kelly@
The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions of more dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", let’s generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Marijuana is way safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

Marijuana is the safest and healthiest intoxicant known to man, with many wonderful medical benefits as well.

Even The President of the United States himself has used marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let's end this hypocrisy now!

The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less "crimes" because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!
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 1st legal recreational pot industry opens in US 
Employee David Marlow, right, helps a customer, who smells a strain of marijuana before buying it, at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Colorado began retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.”

(AP)

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