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First-ever state-licensed marijuana stores to open Jan. 1, in Colorado


New York -- Colorado will become the first state in the country to open recreational pot retail stores when, on Jan. 1, 2014, it begins allowing the sale of cannabis to anyone age 21 or over.

The move comes after voters in Colorado approved the measure in the November 2012 elections. The state of Washington also legalized recreational marijuana at the same time, but that state won't open marijuana stores until later in 2014.

Cannabis will be legally sold and taxed in Colorado at specially regulated retailers in a system similar to what many states have in place for alcohol sales. In a big difference, however, purchases will be limited to an ounce of marijuana at a time. Purchases from out-of-state individuals are limited to a quarter-ounce.

Retail marijuana will have a 25% state tax -- plus the usual state sales tax of 2.9% -- making recreational pot one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in Colorado, according to CNN. Some communities are adding even more taxes to the product.

Only about eight are expected to be ready to open on Jan. 1, with the majority in Denver. And there are concerns that supplies will be sold out on the first day, the report said, with so few stores having passed the lengthy licensing process so far.

Colorado has issued a total of 348 recreational pot licenses to businesses statewide, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, Reuters reported. Of those, 136 are for retail stores, 178 for cultivation operations, 31 for manufacturing of infused edibles and other sundries, and three are for testing facilities.

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