Today about three dozen state-licensed pot shops opened in Colorado, the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize recreational marijuana sales. The historic event attracted pot consumers from throughout the country and journalists from around the world. The Denver Post reports that lines began forming at stores early this morning, with crowds of hundreds waiting patiently at some outlets. "It's been pretty smooth, orderly," a Denver police spokesman said. "People were acting respectable."
Curtis Durham, a 24-year-old customer at LoDo Wellness in Denver, came all the way from Chandler, Texas, to experience the thrill of being respectable. "I've been to jail two or three times just for simple marijuana possession of less than a gram," he told the Post. "I went to jail for having a pipe." At 3D Cannabis, site of the ceremonial first sale at 8 a.m., a customer from Ohio "said he drove 20 hours straight to be here and isn't going home."
The demand generated by the novelty of today's sales gave cannabis consumers a taste of the shortage they are likely to face until marijuana from the first plants legally grown for the recreational market is available in the spring:
Within hours, the hand of the free market was already evident. In the face of strong demand, one shop raised its price for an eighth of an ounce from $25 to $45. Others kept prices steady. A number of shops imposed limits on the amount of pot customers could buy.
Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of Denver Relief, predicts that "people are going to be able to sell eighths for 60, 70, 80 bucks for the first few months." His dispensary, one of 136 retail outlets in Colorado that have been granted state licenses for recreational sales so far, has not received local approval yet, but he's in no hurry. "We're not going to be open until mid-to-late February," Khalatbari says, and at that point Denver Relief will continue catering mainly to patients, selling about a fifth of its production to a members-only clientele of recreational users. "There are going to be a lot of places that, even though they have that [recreational] license, they're not going to be able to take care of people," he says. His advice to residents of other states who are contemplating a Colorado cannabis tour: "I would say to wait a couple months, let it die down. I think they're going to have a tough time, and they're going to pay way too much these first few months, because the supply is so limited."
They might also want to get behind legalization efforts in their own states. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which was the main financial backer of Colorado's legalization campaign, is supporting a petition drive in Alaska for an initiative that would appeal on the ballot in August. MPP is working on November 2016 ballot initiatives in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada, plus lobbying legislators in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. "The era of marijuana prohibition is officially over in Colorado," says MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "The state is demonstrating to the rest of the nation and the entire world that regulating marijuana works."