The first batch of Denver businesses approved to sell recreational marijuana got their licenses Friday. Applause broke out and cameras whirred when the first license was issued from the city's Department of Excise and Licenses.
Denver awarded 14 licenses for retail shops, 17 licenses for pot growers and three licenses for makers of cannabis-infused products such as pot brownies.
"I think it's about time that adults can imbibe in marijuana," said Donald Andrews of the LoDo Wellness Center, one of the retail shops that got a license.
Amendment 64, which Colorado voters approved last year, legalized recreational pot use in the state for people age 21 or older, but retail sales of the drug aren't allowed until 8 a.m. 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 stacks of fliers Friday 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.