Hundreds buy recreational marijuana on historic day

Hundreds buy recreational marijuana on historic day

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - Cold temperatures didn't stop hundreds from lining up outside of The Greener Side to purchase recreational marijuana legally for the first time. 

Jeff Grindstaff was the store's first customer. He got in line around 6 a.m. "I've been a medical patient for years. I really just wanted to be first to make the history," he said. 

By 5 p.m. Wednesday more than 300 customers had purchased marijuana at the store's location off of Interstate 25. "We've had busy days, but I've never seen anything like this. This is like Black Friday," said Hank Borunda, owner of The Greener Side.

Joe Papa was in line Wednesday morning. He moved to Canon City from New Jersey to smoke pot. "I've been waiting 12 years for this, drove 2,000 miles and I'm happy to be here," he said.

Pueblo County commissioners have touted the county's support of legalizing marijuana sales. Commissioner Sal Pace believes it will eliminate the black market. 

On average, an eighth of an ounce of pot sells for about $55 at The Greener Side. Customers agree it's more than what they can find on the streets.

"Definitely the prices are a little higher now with the taxes but with recreational being legal, it's the way to go," James Baca said. He said he prefers buying at a store because he knows the quality of pot available.

An officer with the Marijuana Enforcement Division stopped by the store Wednesday morning to make sure it was in compliance with state laws. It remains a federal offense to smoke marijuana but federal officials said they will not challenge Colorado's laws.

In the meantime, the state is trying to get up to speed with pot sales. Borunda said he hasn't received tracking devices from the state to monitor his plants from seed to sale. The state has granted him a waiver so he can sell pot without the tracking system.

The Greener Side is one of two pot shops open in Pueblo County for recreational sales. Marisol Therapeutics also opened Jan. 1. Pueblo West Organics has been approved to sell retail pot but the owner says he needs more time to get ready.

Adults 21 and older can buy up to an ounce of marijuana. Those from out-of-state can purchase up to a quarter of an ounce. 

Borunda says he prayed for a big turnout but didn't know what to expect. "This is pretty wild," he said.

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