DENVER (January 1, 2014) The nation's first recreational pot industry was open for business Wednesday in Colorado, kicking off a marijuana experiment that will be watched closely around the world.
Activists hope it will prove that legalization is a better alternative than the costly American-led drug war.
The licensed pot dealers who opened the doors to shoppers at 8 a.m. Wednesday are hoping the fledgling industry will 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 extra security.
Aaron Ramsey, a musician who served a brief jail sentence for pot possession less than a year ago, was one of the people who waited in line to buy legal marijuana Wednesday.
He drove from Missouri to make the purchase.
Another man drove from Ohio, and yet another came from Virginia, so they could be in Colorado for the start of the legal pot sales.
"We're making history here,” Brandon Harris of Blanchester, Ohio, said.
As the shops opened, the Denver Police Department tweeted, "Do you know the law?" and provided links to city websites on state and local laws that include bans on public consumption, driving under the influence, taking marijuana out of state and giving pot to anyone younger than 21.
Washington state also legalized recreational pot.
Sales there begin later this year.
Legalization critics warn that increased access will lead to an increase in drug abuse, including among teenagers, and crime.