DENVER – Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone older than 21 beginning today.
Officials at Denver International Airport installed new signs warning visitors their weed cant legally go home with them.
And at a handful of shops, owners were scrambling to plan celebrations, set up coffee stations, arrange food giveaways and hire extra security to prepare for potential crowds and overnight campers ready to buy up to 1 ounce of legal weed.
While smoking pot has been legal in Colorado for the past year, so-called Green Wednesday represents another historic milestone for the decades-old legalization movement: the unveiling of the nations first legal pot industry.
Preparation for the retail market started more than a year ago, soon after Colorado voters in 2012 approved the legal pot industry. Washington state has its own version, which is scheduled to open in mid-2014.
Pot advocates, who had long pushed legalization as an alternative to the lengthy and costly global drug war, had argued it would generate revenue for state coffers and save money in locking up drug offenders.
Still, setting up regulations, taxation and oversight for a drug thats never been regulated before took some time.
Colorado set up an elaborate plant-tracking system to keep the drug away from the black market, and regulators set up packaging, labeling and testing requirements, along with potency limits for edible pot.
The U.S. Justice Department outlined a slate of priorities for pot regulation, requiring states to keep the drug away from minors, criminal cartels, federal property and other states in order to avoid a federal crackdown. Pot is still illegal under federal law.
We understand that Colorado is under a microscope, said Jack Finlaw, lawyer to Gov. John Hickenlooper and overseer of a major task force to chart new pot laws.