The world’s first recreational marijuana retail license has been awarded to Annie’s- a dispensary currently operating as a medical marijuana center in Central City, Colorado (insert Rocky Mountain High joke here.) Although Annie’s still needs to obtain a state license, businesses throughout Colorado are scheduled to open their doors starting January 1, 2014.
“Colorado is moving forward and leaving marijuana prohibition behind,” boasted Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and co-director of Colorado’s marijuana legalizing Amendment 64 campaign. “For the first time in history, those who sell marijuana are receiving licenses from the state instead of rap sheets. Marijuana will be sold to adults by legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market.”
Tvert remains confident that Colorado will act as a machete in the jungle of marijuana reform, clearing the path for other states to take similar measures, adding, “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is finally starting to be treated that way.”
The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, the regulatory agency overseeing retail marijuana in the state, reportedly accepted 136 applications from recreational marijuana stores in October. The state guarantees that a decision on all applications submitted in the month of October will be made by the end of the year.
State law demands that only businesses who are already licensed for medical marijuana sales and are in “good standing” with the state can apply for a recreational license. Spokesperson for the marijuana regulatory office- Julie Postlethwait- estimates that around 550 dispensaries qualify for a license.
Developing at a rate set to exceed the growth of the global smartphone market, legal marijuana is already one of the fasted-growing markets in the U.S.
“Entrepreneurs and private investors are flocking to cannabis markets,” explained Steve Berg- a former managing director of Wells Fargo Bank and editor of the second edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets report. “Those who really understand market dynamics will reap large rewards.”
Recently, voters approved a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales in the state, with revenue set to fund public school construction and marijuana regulation. The taxes are expected to generate roughly $70 million in additional revenue for Colorado in 2014.
“Colorado has an opportunity to claim a, if not the, leading role in the cannabis industry, if it’s properly financed,” projected Steve DeAngelo- president of ArcView investment group which supports startup pot businesses. “It’s an opportunity to build the first big companies and the first big brands.”
-Rita Baldini, Senior Managing Editor