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Legal Recreational Pot Industry Opens in Colorado

ptionEmployees help customers at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. Colorado began retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling "Green Wednesday." (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Employees help customers at the crowded sales counter inside Medicine Man marijuana retail store, which opened as a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver on Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. Colorado began retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER (AP) — Crowds were serenaded by live music as they waited for the nation’s first legal recreational pot shops to open. They ate doughnuts and funnel cakes as a glass-blower made smoking pipes. Some tourists even rode around in a limo, eager to try weed but not so eager to be seen buying it.  And when the sales began, those who bought the drug emerged from the stores, receipt held high and carrying sealed shopping bags, to cheers.

“I’m going to frame the receipt when I go home, to remind myself of what might be possible: Legal everywhere,” musician James Aaron Ramsey, 28, who did some time in jail for pot possession in Missouri and played folk tunes with his guitar for those in line.  Activists hope he’s right, and that the experiment in Colorado will prove to be a better alternative to the costly American-led drug war, produce the kind of revenue that state officials hope and save the government costs in locking up drug offenders.

Just on the first day, prices had already risen to more than $500 an ounce, but it’s too soon to say whether that will hold.  Washington state will open its pot industry later this year. Both states programs will be watched closely not just by officials in other states, but by activists and governments in other countries because the industries will be the first to regulate the production and sale of the drug.

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