Colorado marks one year of recreational marijuana sales

World Today

It’s been a year since the U.S. state of Colorado launched the world’s first market for recreational marijuana sales that are regulated and taxed. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reported on the results of the first year of this grand experiment in Denver.

The New Year is barely underway and already the kitchen at Dixie Elixirs is buzzing. Food products like Dixie Rolls, white chocolate peppermint and truffles, all containing marijuana, roll off the assembly line.

“The best thing that happened is the sky didn’t fall. We didn’t have mass chaos. Everyone was very controlled and responsive with their consumption,” said Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer of ‘edibles’ manufacturer Dixie Elixirs .

But that’s not to say the first year of recreational marijuana sales in this state went smoothly.

“It was a… it was a wild ride to say the least,” Hodas said.

Denver freelance writer Joel Warner covers the pot beat said the first year was a “success with conditions.”

Sales in 2014 have been lucrative, with recreational marijuana approaching $400 million. A chunk of that money will go to schools and the industry has also helped fire up other sectors of Colorado’s economy.

“Our real estate is booming, five million square feet of commercial leased space, that’s the estimates that we’re seeing that this industry’s had. Imagine if that was vacant property and what that does for an economy,” Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group said.

There are now hundreds of marijuana dispensaries in the state, with many of them in Denver.

However the lack of clearly marked portions on edible marijuana has led some consumers to eat too much and get sick. Many critics said edibles are still a weak link in the marijuana experiment.

“These bud tenders say take one tiny piece, take one-tenth of a candy bar and wait two hours. Who takes a tenth of a candy bar and waits two hours?” Warner said.

One critic of marijuana thinks many Coloradans already regret voting for a system he believes will lead to negative health effects and more addiction in the future.

“The societal costs are far greater. The industry themselves get wealthy, they make a lot of money, but the burden falls on families. It falls on employers, it falls on our health care system, it falls on our schools,” Bob Doyle, a member of Smart Approaches to Marijuana said. “I think absolutely in Colorado there’s buyer’s remorse.”

Warner said he hasn’t seen a significant backlash but said he worries that frequent smokers will demand more potent marijuana as the industry continues to solidify.

“I don’t see the genie going back in the bottle. There’s too much infrastructure. Too much momentum has been put in place,” Hodas said.