Denver pot licenses issued, allowing recreational sales

Denver: Pot licenses have been issued to 14 retail shops, allowing owners to sell marijuana and cannabis-infused products. Denver is one of 19 municipalities and seven counties in Colorado that will allow retail sales of recreational pot. 

Brennan Linsley/AP
Employees roll joints behind the sales counter at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which is to open as a recreational outlet at the start of 2014, in Denver, Friday. Medicine Man was among the first batch of Denver businesses which received their licenses allowing them to legally sell recreational marijuana on Friday.

The first batch of Denver businesses approved to sell recreational marijuana have received their licenses, the owners mugging for pictures and saying they never thought they'd see the day when they'd get a permit to sell pot.

Applause broke out and cameras whirred Friday when the first license was issued from the city's Department of Excise and Licenses. The city awarded 14 licenses for retail shops, 17 licenses for pot growers and three licenses for makers of cannabis-infused products such as pot brownies.

One businessman joked about getting arrested for having a joint at a 1971 Black Sabbath concert. Others shared hugs and stories about marijuana's route to legalization.

"I think it's about time that adults can imbibe in marijuana," said Donald Andrews of one of the retail shops, LoDo Wellness Center in downtown Denver.

The licensed sellers went through a state and local licensing process that included public hearings to ask neighbors about shop locations. Owners also underwent more than a dozen fire and building inspections for each shop.

"It's been a grueling process but we're finally here," said Justin Jones, owner of Dank Colorado, a retail shop.

Recreational pot for adults over 21 has been legal in Colorado for more than a year, but retail sales of the drug aren't allowed until 8 a.m. on Jan. 1. Washington state, the only other state to allow recreational pot use by adults, plans to have stores open by late spring of next year.

Denver is one of 19 municipalities and seven counties in Colorado that will allow retail sales of recreational pot.

Only existing medical marijuana businesses are now allowed to make the transition to recreational sales. The licensed shops were handed red posters Friday and stacks of fliers instructing pot customers on marijuana limits, including the fact that users can't consume pot in public, drive high, or take pot out of state.

"These are big businesses that have been operating in good standing in our city for a long time," said Amber Miller, spokeswoman for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Colorado has approved 348 marijuana business licenses. More than a hundred of those are still pending in Denver, meaning the city is likely to have many more shops in the first few months of 2014.

Still unclear is what the morning of Jan. 1 will look like. Some pot shop owners are planning to install purchasing caps and other limits to try to avoid a run on weed.

"We're hoping next week will be a fun-filled experience but a responsible one," said Elan Nelson of Medicine Man, a licensed shop and growing center in northeast Denver. "But this is a new experience for all of us, I guess we'll just have to find out."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.