Denver Post: Whole world is watching Colorado's pot experiment
By The Denver Post
If you're wondering about all the news coverage of the opening of retail marijuana outlets, it's because the event really is a big deal.
Colorado on Wednesday became the first place in the world we repeat, in the world where it is fully legal to sell marijuana to anyone over 21 in licensed retail outlets.
Amsterdam has long taken a tolerant view toward the sale of marijuana in coffee shops, but as Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, explained recently, "It will actually be fully legal in Colorado, at least under state law, whereas in the Netherlands it's been tolerated, not actually legal."
To be sure, the state of Washington, which approved retail sales at the same time as Colorado, will soon join this state in allowing pot outlets to open. So will Uruguay, for that matter. But Colorado will get to the finish line first.
Given the unprecedented novelty of the event, we expected to see a festive atmosphere around pot shops Wednesday, but we would hope that over time if the state and local jurisdictions regulate cultivation and sales as envisioned the marijuana business should fade into the background and become only marginally more controversial than the sale of liquor.
At least that was the intention of the sponsors of Amendment 64, and there's no overriding reason the goal can't be achieved.
Unfortunately, one of the obstacles to a smooth rollout of the pot shops this week is likely to be the juvenile attitude of some pot activists who are not content with Colorado's ground-breaking law and who may attempt to flout restrictions against public use.
Denver Police Chief Robert White said this week that his officers will ensure the shops open "in an orderly fashion," but that he would not "have a team of officers specifically going out looking for people smoking marijuana."
That's fine so far as it goes. But we would hope that if police do see people smoking marijuana openly near the pot shops or wherever it is illegal they instruct the users to stop.
As Denver Councilman Charlie Brown told a Denver Post reporter, "We didn't pass the laws for them not to be enforced."
Especially with the whole world watching to see how Coloradans behave.