“What we’ve tried to do is become a vehicle for monitoring of this experiment in Colorado and Washington, and to do so in the hopes that we cannot have to pay tuition fees twice,” Mr. Kennedy said at a Tuesday press conference. “We don’t have to have other states go down this road and have to learn the same hard lessons that residents of Colorado are already learning.”
Not every municipality in Colorado is selling recreational marijuana. A number of cities, including Colorado Springs, have banned retail pot shops, while Denver and others are expecting to benefit from a surge in tourism from out-of-state tokers.
State officials estimate that sales will generate $70 million in tax revenue the first year from the combination of a 15 percent excise tax and a special sales tax that starts at 10 percent, but can climb as high as 15 percent.
That doesn’t include taxes imposed by municipalities such as Denver, which has added a 3.5 percent sales tax on top of the state taxes.
Despite the expected jump in tax revenue, Colorado’s top lawmakers didn’t schedule any ribbon cuttings to coincide with the launch. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Democrats who opposed legalization, declined to attend any of the grand openings.
The lack of an official imprimatur didn’t put a damper on the festivities for out-of-staters like Steven Reynolds, who drove 17 hours with his girlfriend, Kim Berger, from Goshen, Ind. It was their first trip to Denver, but probably not their last.
“I don’t think Indiana will ever do this,” Mr. Reynolds said. “So this was a chance to be part of history. People have been fighting for this for a long time.”
Darren and Tyler Austin, a father and son from Augusta, Ga., painted their faces green, and their friend Sawyer Foster of Longmont, Colo., dyed his hair.
“We just wanted to be part of the celebration,” said Darren Austin. “It’s definitely a history-making moment.”
Tyler Austin held a hand-painted sign that reflected the views of many marijuana enthusiasts: “It’s About Time.”