Denver, CO: Dozens of state and locally licensed cannabis retailers opened for business on Wednesday, engaging in thousands of retail transactions with customers age 21 and older.
The sales are in compliance with newly enacted state regulations allowing for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. In past weeks, state regulators have approved over 300 businesses to engage in marijuana commerce. Several dozens of those enterprises opened their doors on Wednesday while dozens more are expected to begin operating within the coming weeks.
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called the day’s events “historic.” He said: “For the first time in modern history, a state is regulating cannabis as a legal commodity in a manner similar to alcohol. Colorado is the first, but it certainly won’t be the last, state to treat cannabis as a legal, adult retail product rather than as a prohibited, criminalized substance. The genie is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in.”
Under Colorado law, adults may legally possesses and grow limited quantities of cannabis. Licensed commercial retailers may also cultivate, produce, and sell cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Local municipalities, in additional to state regulators, must sign off on the operation of marijuana businesses. Fifty-five percent of state voters in November 2012 approved ballot language authorizing adults to possess, grow, and commercially sell cannabis.
In August, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a three-page memorandum affirming that the Justice Department would not interfere in the state’s efforts to regulate cannabis sales, provided that those regulations limit the substance’s availability to children and do not allow for the diversion of cannabis to states that have not legalized its use.
In-state residents may purchase up to one ounce of cannabis. Out-of-state customers are limited to purchasing no more than one-quarter ounce of cannabis per retail transaction. Retail cannabis sales are subject to state sales tax in additional to a cannabis-specific 25 percent ‘sin’ tax. Transactions involving the purchase of medicinal cannabis by state-qualified patients are not subject to similar taxation. Public consumption of cannabis is subject to a civil fine.
Further details on existing Colorado laws and regulations specific to cannabis industry practices are available online from the Colorado Department of Revenue here: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Rev-MMJ/CBON/1251592984795.
Similar regulations governing state-licensed cannabis production and sales are anticipated to begin in Washington in coming months.