Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

1st Retail Pot Shops in U.S. Open Today

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

1st Retail Pot Shops in U.S. Open Today

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- After years of politicking and planning, Colorado makes history today when it opens the first retail marijuana stores in the United States, allowing state residents to buy up to an ounce of the drug.

Out-of-state visitors will be allowed to buy a quarter of an ounce at a time.

While proponents celebrated the long-awaited day, opponents warned that the nation is about to launch a high-stakes experiment that will lead to higher rates of drug addiction, lower academic scores for children and more arrests for drugged driving.

As the "Rocky Mountain High" becomes officially enshrined in law, Sean Azzariti, an Iraq War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, was to make the first legal purchase at 3D (Denver's Discreet Dispensary) at 8 a.m. New Year's Day. He appeared in a television ad in 2012 to explain how legalizing recreational use would help him, because his condition was not covered under the state's medical marijuana law.

"Adults are using marijuana in every state across the nation. In Colorado, they will now be purchasing it from legitimate businesses instead of in the underground market," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, which helped lead the legalization campaign.

"It's a tough day to be part of a street gang in Colorado," said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. Instead of focusing on pot smokers, he said, police will now be freed to pursue "real criminals with everything they've got."

To prepare for the store openings, the Denver Post boosted its news coverage, hiring a marijuana editor, creating a newsletter for readers and a pot website that includes recipes for "cannabis- themed dinners" and reviews of the latest pot films and marijuana strains such as "triple diesel" and "granddaddy purple. …

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