Consumers, lawmakers, business people and addiction experts are looking to Colorado today, where the first recreational pot industry opens for business.
Starting today adult residents of Colorado can legally buy up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.
Tourists can buy a quarter ounce. No one can take it across state lines. And smoking of marijuana is not permitted in public, something that the Colorado ski industry is taking pains to point out.
As many as 30 medical marijuana dispensaries in eight Colorado towns that have approved the retail sale of marijuana are bracing for what they expect will be a booming business on what's being called "Green Wednesday" in Colorado.
"Some interesting stuff out there," Ricardo Baca, the marijuana editor for the Denver Post told Here & Now’s Robin Young. "Lines around the block, lines around the corner. We haven't run into much overnight camping. As one person just told me outside a shop called City Med... 'It's all smiles here.'"
Baca says that while people are eagerly buying, the law is very strict regarding where marijuana can be used.
"It's illegal to ingest the product anywhere in public," Baca said. "The ski resorts are an even more serious issue, because so many of the resorts occupy federal land."
Andy Williams, co-owner of Medicine Man Denver, described business today as "absolutely phenomenal."
"There's a real group sense of relief, you really feel it on people out there," Williams told Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti. "They're finally free of breaking the law to do something that they love to do. People don't like to break the law, and they don't have to."
Medicine Mann Denver is one of the few outlets in Colorado that will be selling pot for recreational use to people over 21. The store had already been dispensing medical marijuana since 2010.
To meet demand, the dispensary is in the process of doubling its growing capacity to 40,000 square feet.
"I welcome this industry to keep growing," Williams said. "A strong industry in Colorado that is well-managed and well-enforced is going to mean that other states are going to see the great things we are doing here."
This segment aired on January 1, 2014.