KARE 11 examines Colorado's recreational pot industry

DENVER - It's been a month since Colorado became the first state in the nation to open recreational marijuana stores.

As a result is has also become the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale.

KARE 11 traveled to Denver last month to see just how the state is pioneering the green rush.

More than 30 stores have opened recreational marijuana sales since Jan. 1.

"We've never not had a line. We have run a transaction every 90 seconds, 10 hours a day, for 21 days in a row now. It's phenomenal," said Tim Cullen, owner of Evergreen Apothecary in Denver.

Cullen opened a medical marijuana dispensary after he and his father were both diagnosed with Crohn's disease. What he never imagined, his business would strike success with recreational marijuana. It's already seeing nearly 500 percent growth.

"I have 15 years in corporate America and have never seen a business in any industry grow like this," said manager Josh Cusack. "We get to live the dream every single day. This is how I get to utilize my master's degree running a cannabis shop. Fifteen years ago, I didn't think that is what I'd be doing with my career."

As part of the new recreational law, approved by voters, those 21 or older, can buy up to an ounce at a licensed store, as long as you have a Colorado ID. Many stores are capping sales at less to keep up with demand. People from outside Colorado can buy a quarter ounce.

"It's a wonderland folks! You won't regret it," said Brian Davis, just one of many tourists making Denver a new destination. "This is the answer. The education lottery is cool but this is going to be a lot more money than that, you know?"

Customers get expert advice from the store's "bud-tenders" and forms of marijuana can be eaten, smoked or vaporized. Many believe it's the remedy for states suffering an economic hit.

"I think it needs to be regulated very tightly because of kids but I think it's a good idea, long overdue and I think they are going to see the benefits from the taxes and are going to want to do it," said Doug Fisichella, of Littleton."I'm an author I do a lot of things, I write. I teach. It's not it's what people used to think it was."

Here, pot sheds its seedy stigma. This higher ground becomes the testing ground for a new era.

"Minnesota seems like a dead ringer for at least medical marijuana but I think with the tax revenue that's being brought in at this point, you are going to see some states skip right over medical marijuana and move to adult use," said Cullen.


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