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America’s first recreational pot licenses issued in Colorado

Colorado made history on Monday, becoming the first state in the US to issue hundreds of licenses for recreational marijuana businesses.

Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division approved 348 licenses:  136 to pot shops, 31 to marijuana-infused products companies, 178  to growing facilities, and three to marijuana-testing  laboratories. All businesses had to apply by the end of October  in order to receive their licenses by New Year’s Eve and begin  operating on January 1. As RT reported earlier, Colorado and Washington  became the first states to legalize the recreational use of  marijuana after voters approved the measures in referendums.

“Colorado will be the first state to have a legal marijuana  market for adults,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the  Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of Colorado’s  legalization push, told the Denver Post. “We expect it to set  an example for other states.”

Marijuana in Colorado will be given a 15 percent excise tax and a  10 percent sales tax. Authorities expect these taxes to add  roughly $70 million to the state budget. The first $40 million  has already been set aside for school projects.

“We are grateful voters approved funding that will allow for  a strong regulatory environment, just like liquor is  regulated,” Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) told Reuters after  voters approved the regulations suggested by state authorities.  The governor originally opposed legalizing marijuana, but has  come out in support of the tax proposal.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure kids don’t  smoke pot and that we don’t have people driving who are high.  This ballot measure gives Colorado the ability to regulate  marijuana properly,” he added in a statement.

Although 348 licenses were issued, not all of the businesses will  begin operations on January 1. In addition to state approval,  marijuana-related facilities must also obtain permission from  local jurisdictions. According to the Denver Post, only eight  stores in the state’s capital are ready to open their doors to  customers on the first day of 2014. Ninety-four others which have  been approved by the state are still in the process of clearing  hurdles in the local licensing process. In Denver, for example,  marijuana-related businesses must go through a public hearing and  five city inspections in order to obtain a city license.



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