Colorado takes a deep breath for Green Wednesday, when new marijuana laws will go into effect across the state. The new laws will allow licensed dispensaries to sell up to an ounce of recreational pot to anyone over 21 years old, and no one is really quite sure what to expect when the doors open. Many municipalities have opted out of opening new dispensaries as soon as the new year begins, but Denver will be flush with options to pick up a little bit of green. Tourists will also be allowed to buy, and many stores are scrambling to make sure they can meet demand, some calling in ten times normal inventory amounts in a bid to keep customers happy.
Denver police will be out in force, but more for protection of those waiting to buy than to make busts. The law reform does not allow pot to be consumed in public, be it cafe, theater, or parked car; and although the purchases are legal, purchases must be made with cash. Because weed is illegal at the federal level, banks did not extend dispensaries the option to have debit or credit machines. This will result in lines of people waiting to buy with pockets stuffed with cash. While Colorado takes a deep breath for Green Wednesday, Police are more concerned with quelling any robberies or possible violence than busting buyers too excited to wait until they got home to start partaking.
Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for the last year, but the legal public sale is a historic first in the U.S. Some worry that Colorado will be over run with pot, but Councilman Charlie Brown insists that the image Colorado deserves for this bold decision is one of change and modernity. Americans across the country are cheering for the forward thinking amendments. With marijuana finally being sold and regulated similarly to alcohol, a chance to see if it will work in real life without skewed data or reports has arrived. Now as Colorado takes a deep breath for Green Wednesday, eyes are beginning to turn to the future of the state as well as wondering if the savings in fewer drug charges and added revenue from taxed pot will be as beneficial and obvious as marijuana supporters have been saying they will be.
The similarities to alcohol don’t stop with old prohibition laws and a minimum age of 21. Colorado residents seen using marijuana in public places will face similar fines and jail sentences as those violate alcohol laws, but simply possessing the drug is no longer considered a criminal act in any regard. In addition, smoking in parks, ski areas, schools, and work places can carry additional punishments as dictated by the establishment. As with alcohol, driving high is illegal, and a blood test has been devised that can show the current levels of THC in one’s body at the moment of being pulled over. THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana, and those who test with more than 5 nano-grams per millimeter of blood after Green Wednesday will be subject to strict penalties.
By Daniel O’Brien