Colorado medical marijuana shops are expecting a “very festive” atmosphere at 8 AM tomorrow, when they will be able to open their doors to anyone willing to buy the drug. The state has predicted that 2014 will see a $571.1 million profit on legal marijuana sales in 2014, all of it taxed.
A Bloomberg report on the eve that marijuana legalization takes effect in Colorado notes that the state also expects $67 million in tax revenue alone from those nearly $600 million in profits. The profits will go in part to funding schools, and only those over the age of 21 can buy marijuana at legally licensed stores. The stores opening tomorrow morning were already in existence, selling their product medically to those with a prescription. No new shops may legally open until July.
Shop owners are reporting long lines of people already camping out in front of their stores. One shop owner told Bloomberg she was preparing by buying heaters and bringing over a food truck to help those camping out. Others report the lines are expected later tonight. These reports are in stark contrast to predictions from earlier this month; the AP previously cited experts from the Medical Marijuana Council saying this December that Colorado was not going to be “Wal-Mart on Black Friday” and many users might be “disappointed.”
The cause for concern at the time was that many of the eligible dispensaries had yet to receive their licenses, and there was a palpable worry that they may not file the paperwork in time for a January 1 opening. By the time the red tape cleared and shops all around the state received their licenses, the tone of reporting shifted to a concern that the demand for the drug would not be met by the few shops opening. The long lines seem to indicate that this, rather than dispensaries not functioning at all, is the problem people will most likely face tomorrow.
As the doors open to legalized marijuana in Colorado, the two-tiered legality of the drug raises serious concerns for how the market will run. As marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, the Department of Justice reserves the right to arrest and prosecute people for selling or possessing it. Since marijuana continues to be illegal federally, it also makes the market a fully cash one, as banks cannot aid in the distribution of illegal products.
While President Obama has said he has no interest in using the long arm of the law to arrest those who possess the drug in legal states, his record on marijuana arrests is striking in its forcefulness. The President also reserves the right to change his mind.