COLORADO: Call it Black Wednesday. Recreational marijuana goes on sale legally in Colorado on Jan. 1, and Denver officials are worried that the city’s retail shops won’t be anywhere close to meeting demand.
At a city-council meeting Monday, lawmakers in Colorado’s largest city raised questions about licensing delays and the prospect of people queuing up for hours in what have been historically low temperatures.
“If we have 10 stores open … we could have people camping out overnight with cash in their pocket,” said councilman Charlie Brown. “How is the industry, how is the police department going to work together?”
Though more than 100 stores are waiting to have applications approved by the city and state, a process that involves multiple inspections and a public hearing, a small fraction of that number are likely to be open by 8 a.m., Jan. 1, when legal sales for recreational marijuana begin. Employees from the city’s department of excise and licenses estimated that Denver will have around 12 legal retail outlets in operation.
City officials are worried about the ability of those stores to handle the expected crowds, which they said will be supplemented by marijuana tourists arriving on chartered buses. Security is also a concern, as marijuana can only be purchased with cash.
A representative from the medical-marijuana industry said he knows Denver is going to be under enormous scrutiny on New Year’s Day. “It’s very true that the whole world is watching,” said Michael Elliott, who noted that shoppers may be confused when they’re turned away from the vast majority of medical-marijuana dispensaries that aren’t licensed to sell recreational pot. “It’s very intense right now.”