Colorado state authorities give controversial gift to residents on New Year’s Day by making Colorado the first state in the US to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.
On January 1st, Colorado becomes the first US state to license the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Buyers will each be allowed to purchase up to an ounce, and cannabis sales will be taxed by 25%, with much of the revenue put toward building new schools.
Because “cannabis tourists” are expected to flock from all over the world, the rest of the US will be watching the results closely.
Denver already has more licensed dispensaries for medical marijuana than it has Starbucks coffee shops. Regulated cannabis growing facilities supply the dispensaries, and are located in industrial estate warehouses, which are as legal as potato farms.
Sales of medical cannabis are currently legal in 20 states across the US. But in November last year, Colorado’s voters went further, passing a controversial law, Amendment 64, which allowed the sale of cannabis for recreational use.
Regulators have noted the difficulty in determining the market value of the drug in Colorado next year.
However, despite legalization, the criminal aspect associated with marijuana remains. More than a dozen medical dispensaries, as well as growing warehouses were recently raided by federal agents.
They are currently being investigated for potential links to Colombian drug cartels, and enough unlicensed cannabis was confiscated that a forklift was required to take it away.
Debate is still raging about whether the cannabis that people buy in the shops can be smoked in public places such as parks, or in residents’ gardens. The city council is considering measures that would introduce fines up to $999 and a one-year jail term for smoking in public.
“You can’t run naked in your front yard although it’s your property. The public good is sometimes more important than property rights,” said Charlie Brown, who chairs the committee responsible for marijuana related issues, adding: “This is a big deal and we have to be ready for it. We are going to be the test for the whole country.”
Reprinted from The Voice of Russia.