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Legal recreational pot industry opens in Colorado

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 1, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.

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Partygoers smoke marijuana during a Prohibition-era themed New Year's Eve party celebrating the start of retail pot sales, at a bar in Denver, late Tuesday Dec. 31, 2013. Colorado is to begin marijuana retail sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling ‘Green Wednesday.'

DENVER — The nation's first recreational pot industry opened in Colorado on Wednesday, kicking off an experiment that will be watched closely around the world and one that activists hope will prove that legalization is a better alternative than the costly American-led drug war.

Business owners who threw their doors open for shoppers at 8 a.m. are hoping the fledgling industry will prove to generate as much revenue as state officials hope it will. At least 24 pot shops in eight towns scrambled to get ready for the opening, increasing staff and inventory and hiring security.

More than a dozen people waiting in line outside one shop in Denver.

"We wanted to be a part of this movement," said Brandon Harris, who drove 20 hours from Blanchester, Ohio. "We're making history here."

Another shopper, Jacob Elliott, traveled from Leesburg, Va., to join the crowd waiting in pre-dawn chill. He said he wrote reports in college about the need to end prohibition of marijuana, but never thought it could happen in his lifetime.

"This breaks that barrier," he said. "We can buy it like any other free-market product."

Earlier, pot users welcomed the new year — and the new industry — by firing up bongs and cheering in a cloud of marijuana smoke at a 1920s-themed "Prohibition Is Over" party in downtown Denver.

Across town, a dispensary set up a food truck and coffee service for campers awaiting the opening of sales. Temperatures were in the upper 30s — balmy for a January night in Colorado — and revelers ditched hemp jackets and sweaters as they alternated between horn blowers and joints and bongs.

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Fdworfe says... January 1, 2014 at 3:17 p.m.

It’s inevitable, general marijuana use in our world is here; soon in all states. We of humankind have a weakness in our brain that allows us to rationalize the use of drugs, knowing all along that they are indeed destructive. But, as I’ve argued for years, every competent adult has the right to his own poison whether it’s mild, medium or strong drugs. He also must be held accountable while consuming the poison of his choice. Reasoning: Despite heroic efforts and countless dollars spent, our drug laws simply don’t work. They only serve to drive up the price of drugs so that murderous drug cartels can further fatten their bank accounts. Some would argue that world political and financial people are delighted with the money that illegal drugs generate. The last thing drug dealers want is the legalization of all recreational drugs. When that happens, drug prices will plummet—so will the number of users. I sincerely hope that we the public will come to our senses. Repeal these pretentious laws except for underage involvement. Let every adult user decide how much he wants to snort before it kills him—or he can choose to rehabilitate his life with the money we are now throwing away on sham enforcement. Listen to drug enforcement people who know this is true! What do we have to lose? But, maybe this would require far more intestinal fortitude, political will and intelligence than we can in this century bring to bear. Regretfully, on this issue, we are blind—even more so than during Prohibition, whose enforcement worked equally well. Remember that lasting fiasco?

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