Colorado’s Fledgling Pot Shops Face New Normal
DENVER (AP) — The second day of the nation’s first fully legal marijuana industry was just a bit less frenzied than the first. Rather than hundred-deep lines outside the limited number of licensed retail shops, the queues held several dozen.
Still, there were so many pot shoppers that one retailer asked customers to come back Friday. Here’s a look at the new normal in Colorado:
1. HOW MUCH FOR AN EIGHTH?
Colorado has no statewide pricing structure, and by midafternoon on the first day, one dispensary was charging $70 for one-eighth of an ounce of high-quality pot. Medical marijuana patients, who worried about being priced out of the market, just a day earlier paid as little as $25 for the same amount.
2. LAW ENFORCERS WATCHING
Authorities are watching whether consumers take marijuana to other states where the drug remains illegal. It’s too soon to tell if that’s happened yet but some law enforcement officials say it’s inevitable. Neighboring Kansas, for example, plans to continue its use of bogus road signs such as “Drug Check Ahead” and “Drug Dogs in Use” along highways to make motorists think twice about bring drugs on the state’s highways.
3. HOW MUCH MONEY FOR STATE?
Retail marijuana is being heavily taxed, with a 10 percent tax per sale and a 15 percent excise tax based on the average market rate of the drug. The state won’t have the first round of receipts until late February but it seems clear demand is strong. A trade group Thursday said three of its retail members reported between 600 and 800 customers during the first day. Colorado has projected $67 million in annual marijuana tax revenue.
4. NOT JUST POT
The same 2012 ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado also permitted industrial hemp farming. The Colorado Department of Agriculture on Thursday released procedures for producers to register with the state and pay fees. Hemp is marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin. It can be used in foods, cosmetics and textiles. It remains illegal to grow under federal law.
5. WHERE NEXT?
Washington state voters also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and that state’s market is due to open in a few months. Activists in Oregon and Alaska say they have enough signatures to put legalization measures on the ballot this year. Ballot measures may well crop up in other states from California to Massachusetts over the next few election cycles.
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