Yes Dude, You Can Really Buy Marijuana Tomorrow

UPDATE 1/1 #2: The Denver Post's John Ingold:

Colorado's ambitious experiment in cannabis policy hit a historic milestone Wednesday, when licensed stores began making the first legal sales of recreational marijuana anywhere in the world.

A few people queued up outside pot shops early Wednesday to celebrate and claim bragging rights, but longer lines began forming later in the morning — growing from a couple of dozen to hundreds at some stores. Police reported no problems.

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UPDATE 1/1: Denver pot line Vine courtesy 7NEWS:

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You asked for it, Colorado.

You asked for it, Colorado.

CNN reports to a nervously waiting nation:

Colorado will begin allowing recreational marijuana sales on January 1 to anyone age 21 or over.

Residents will be able to buy marijuana like alcohol — except the cannabis purchase is limited to an ounce, which is substantial enough to cost about $200 or more.

It's a big moment: Colorado will become the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores and become the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. Pot, by the way, is the third most popular recreational drug in America, after alcohol and tobacco, according to the marijuana reform group NORML…

The top source of information about the first legal retail marijuana sales in Colorado is Westword, or "Westweed" as it's come to be known during the medical marijuana dispensary boom and run-up to full legalization. They report today on what marijuana buyers can expect to pay for their legal over-the-counter product as of tomorrow:

Since the 2009 "green rush" boom of medical dispensaries, Denver pot smokers have enjoyed a steady decline in the price of their cannabis in both the medical and black-market economies, dropping from $50 or $60 an eighth to as low as $25. With the heavily regulated industry of legal recreational marijuana, though, it's looking like prices are climbing back up. This may be temporary, or it may be the new standard. We caught up with a few soon-to-be-open recreational shops to get the details on what shoppers can expect after the first of the year.

"We want to do something that's comparable and fair to markets outside of Colorado," says Toni Fox, owner of 3D Cannabis Center, which will be one of the first dispensaries to begin selling recreationally on January 1. "We're looking at what an eighth costs on the street in Iowa. We don't want to do any drastic increases and overprice the product with that excruciating 36 percent tax. We're going to start our pricing structure at $35 to $40 and $50 an eighth — and that's pre-tax. It's close to what we're charging medicinally, but our medicinal prices always included tax. We're still deciding if we're going to have that 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale side as a line item on the receipt, or if we're going to just absorb that into our base price."

weedopen​The passage of Proposition AA this fall by an overwhelming margin was a key step in fully legitimizing the commercial sale of marijuana, even though sellers complain mightily about the tax regimen as you can read above. By comparison, according to Phillip Morris, almost 57% of tobacco's end retail price is tax revenue–by that yardstick, marijuana is getting off pretty light. Assuming the legal retail supply is unconstricted, experts tell us there's every reason to expect the tax rate for legal marijuana will be happily paid by consumers. The appeal of a legitimate transaction instead of black-market dealing is worth something, just like it was for legal booze over moonshine after Prohibition.

Here's the list of marijuana stores that have received their licenses to open tomorrow. We'd suggest calling first if you plan to indulge, as some of them may not actually be ready to sell just yet. We'll be at home watching bowl games, but we'd love to hear your reports about how the first day of marijuana sales in Colorado plays out. Will there be long "Disneyland lines" like Black Friday? Anarchy on the surrounding roadways? Public amoral debauchery? Hippie stoners on pilgrimage crowding every sidewalk? Will the shops run out of product, sending armies of crazed reefer maniacs into a World War Z-style frenzy of destruction?

The estimable Mike Littwin at the Colorado Independent says, probably not:

If someone is looking for Amsterdam when they come here, they’ll find instead an unseemly shortage of decadence, and, if anything, that we are the clean-living capital of pot consumption (although, to be fair, Washington state, which has also legalized pot, could claim much the same). Tourists come here for the same reason most of us did – for the mountains and the outdoors and to get away from the 70-hour workweeks in the cities of long hallways and short, crooked streets.

Looking back, it was inevitable that we’d be the first place – or tied for first – to legalize pot, although I confess I didn’t see it coming. It happened here because of the peculiar intersection of politics and culture that can happen in the West and apparently the Northwest. After all, everything is politics, up to and including lighting up.

And it’s Colorado, where we have always had this weird strain of Western libertarianism that it has now been joined by the same mix of social liberalism that has turned the state from purplish-red to purplish-blue — the young urban dwellers who can’t fathom that pot was ever against the law, the suburban middle-class types who fondly remember that first hit they took in middle school, the boomers who will insist on telling you late into the night how they invented the stuff.

At least send us some photos of Cheech and Chong. Those are some hilarious stoners, and we assume they've taken up residence at least.

34 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. itlduso says:

    I remember the lines stringing around the Krispy Kreme store in a snowstorm when it opened in Centennial.  The pot stores are healthier than those gut bombs, as long as you get the strain that minimizes the munchies.

    I must say I never thought I'd see legal pot in my lifetime.  Yet another advantage of living long.

  2. Ralphie says:

    My daughter would be so happy!

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    Leave it to government to fuck up a good thing.  $50 bucks for an 1/8th is just inviting black market tax free competition.  The tax rates are going to be a boom and a bummer with this new industry.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      typo  s/b . . . boon and bummer

    • OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

      Price is not – i repeat, is not - the only market force. For the love of all that is holy in economics, why do people keep saying this!?

      Why do you think people shop at Whole Foods instead of King Soopers? It sure isn't because they want to pay more for the same food. You don't think buying from a store front would be more appealing to the consumer than having to track down a dealer? And if price does end up being the deciding factor, the Market will adjust, or it will collapse.

      No matter the tax rate, a tax-free black market will always undercut it, so it either proves it's a viable business enterprise, or this was a fool's errand from the beginning. 

       

    • BlueCat says:

      Third option still the best:  For the boomer crowd who have their share of legit arthritis, bad backs, knees etc. it's easy to get a scrip for medical and much less expensive, even counting initial costs.  

    • VanDammerVanDammer says:

      Boo-hoo.  Finally, we're gonna get a decent revenue stream to help pay for education.  We're pathetic where we put our priorities.

      MJ sales are a great thing & these taxes will not keep folks from buying.  Hell, look at all those folks waiting for doors to open.  It's a helluva lot safer, friendlier, and orderly than any Wal-fart Black Friday.

      I dream that new found income from MJ taxes could lead to increased taxes on booze, cigs, and gambling but cold reality is gonna slap me on that one.  More power to folks that want to party in their space.  Keep 'em off the roads but also outta the jails.  Here's one aspect of Colorado leading the nation in common sense.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could be a bit more realistic about opportunities & failures with booze.  

      Fuxsake, how many repeat DUI'rs on our roads paying minimal tax & surcharge on their handles of vodka?  Cry me a river for the few more cents-to-the-dollar some spandex'd divorcee might have to pay for a pinot gris @ Vinue.  It's time to pony up sinners and rightfully pay for your freedom to indulge. 

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    I haven't smoked pot for more than 25 years, yet find myself tempted now that it's legal in Colorado…cheekyProbably quite a few boomers like me out there.

    • PERA hopeful says:

      I haven't either and never really liked it when I did, but I am also thinking of finding my nearest pot shop just because I never thought I'd see one.  We were talking about this over supper and my husband said there wouldn't be retail outlets in Boulder until February or March.  Our son, a CU student, did not think that would slow any Boulderites down.

    • BlueCat says:

      For me it's over 30 and have no desire to try it again. I found that it stopped being fun for me and started making me feel self conscious and a little paranoid as in… am I acting weird? Are people looking at me funny? But if I had an issue with pain control or some other medical issue for which pot has been shown to be an effective treatment I'd prefer it to prescription drugs with much higher risk, harsher side effects. Fortunately, knock wood, I've inherited my maternal side's small, strong, built to last infrastructure and the back, knees shoulders, etc. still work fine.

  5. Sunmusing says:

    It will be over taxed…and the black market will continue with cheap weed…the anti-weed forces have been using every possible angle to keep the weed from the people…and they are succeeding…the "powers that be" are looking for other ways to fill the corporate prison system…so they made a very narrow path for weed…corruption in our government is a more pressing issue than pot…

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