The world's first recreational marijuana retail license was granted to a dispensary in Colorado this week -- so start saving up, because the Rocky Mountain High will soon be for sale.
Annie's, located in the mountain and gambling town of Central City, was the recipient of the historic license and posted this on their Facebook page earlier this week to celebrate:
Erin Phillips, a spokesperson for Strainwise, told The Huffington Post that the dispensary company received a local license for Annie's and are waiting for approval of the state license for the pot shop.
The first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado will open their doors for the first time in U.S. history on Jan. 1, 2014.
"Colorado is moving forward and leaving marijuana prohibition behind," Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and co-director of Colorado's marijuana legalizing Amendment 64 campaign, told HuffPost. "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."
"It will not be long before voters and lawmakers in other states decide to adopt similar policies," Tvert added. "Marijuana is an objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is finally starting to be treated that way."
The Denver Post reported that the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division, the regulatory agency overseeing retail marijuana in the state, accepted 136 applications from from recreational marijuana stores in October. Individuals who submitted applications in the month of October are guaranteed a decision on their application by the end of the year and, if approved, can open doors on Jan. 1.
“If you got your application in, everything done in the month of October, you’re still going to have the benefit of a start date of Oct. 1 and have a decision by that Jan. 1 date," Julie Postlethwait, spokesperson for the marijuana regulatory office, told HuffPost.
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. Postlethwait said that there is a pool of roughly 550 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado that can apply for recreational sales licenses.
Although it has been less than three months since Attorney General Eric Holder made the historic announcement that the Department of Justice will allow both Colorado and Washington's new marijuana laws to go into effect, legal marijuana is already one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S., increasing at a rate poised to outpace the expansion of the global smartphone market.
"Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries," said Steve Berg, a former managing director of Wells Fargo Bank and editor of the report, the second edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets. "Domestically, we weren't able to find any market that is growing as quickly."
"Entrepreneurs and private investors are flocking to cannabis markets," Berg said. "Those who really understand market dynamics will reap large rewards."
Colorado voters made the limited sale, possession and growing of marijuana for recreational purposes legal for adults 21 and over in 2012. By law, adults can possess up to an ounce of pot, can grow as many as six marijuana plants at home (with only three flowering at any given time), but home-grown marijuana can only be for personal use and cannot be sold. However, adults can gift one another up to an ounce of pot.
Earlier this month, voters also approved a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales in the state -- the revenue from which will 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,” Steve DeAngelo, president of ArcView investment group which supports startup pot businesses, recently said to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s an opportunity to build the first big companies and the first big brands."