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Colorado becomes first state to open retail stores for recreational marijuana

January 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM EST
On the first of the new year, Colorado residents lined up at specialty shops across the state to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use for the first time. Buyers, age 21 and older, can only purchase small amounts of the retail pot at a time and can not consume it in public. Hari Sreenivasan reports.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A new state law takes effect in Colorado today, making it the first state to let anyone over 21 walk into a shop and legally buy recreational marijuana.

They lined up in Denver today for the state’s first legal retail sales of recreational marijuana. The first customer at the 3D Cannabis Center was Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran. He appeared in a TV ad saying pot would alleviate his post-traumatic stress disorder.

SEAN AZZARITI, Iraq War veteran: I couldn’t be happier. It’s a huge stepping stone for other states as well. It’s a huge honor, to say the least.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana on a ballot initiative in 2012. Opponents argued the industry will lead to an increase in drug abuse and crime. But legalization advocates say sales will help generate revenue.

MASON TVERT, Marijuana Policy Project: I’m confident that these businesses will perform and will be good examples of how we can regulate marijuana.

MAN: Got some legal weed.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Under the law, buyers must be at least 21 years old. They may not use marijuana in public, drive under the influence, or take it out of the state. Pot also remains illegal under federal law. With that in mind, Denver International Airport has banned the substance.

WOMAN: This space is shared by federal agencies. We have TSA here. We have FAA. It’s illegal on the federal front, and so it just makes sense for us to also participate and comply with that rule.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Washington State will implement its own legal marijuana industry later this year.