DENVER—Recreational marijuana foes put a buzz-kill on Colorado’s soon-to-be unveiled retail pot market Tuesday by saying they’re considering in the long term a measure to repeal the state’s legalization amendment.
“I think eventually obviously that’s the goal, but there’s no timeline because the first step we know we have to do is there is a huge education void,” said Bob Doyle of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Colorado, an anti-legalization group, in a Tuesday telephone press conference.
“So I think that’s the first step. And the other step being that there are communities who have and can block the commercialization at the local level, so that’s going to be the focus,” said Doyle.
The talk of repeal arrives a day before Colorado becomes the first state in the nation to launch a retail marijuana market for adult recreational users, following the November 2012 passage of Amendment 64.
Kevin Sabet, former senior adviser to the drug czar under President Obama and SAM co-founder, quickly added that the organization is not working toward overturning legalized recreational pot in the short run.
“We’re not actively working toward repeal in Colorado and Washington right now,” said Sabet. “What we’re doing is helping cities that have decided not to go down the route of legalization, helping them remain with that position, monitoring the situation there, monitoring the situation also in Denver and other cities that have gone that way.”
Sabet said he expected Colorado voters to change their minds on legalization once they become better acquainted with the public-health consequences, which he predicted would include more adult and teen addiction issues.
“We do think eventually they will realize that this has not been a positive policy, and we want to be monitoring that, helping them with that, but we’re not working and our affiliates are not working on active repeals in this state,” said Sabet.
Mason Tvert, who ran the successful Amendment 64 campaign, said that, “Unfortunately for opponents of marijuana policy reform, progress only goes forward.”
“I certainly hope they’re as interested in working with us to regulate marijuana responsibly as they are with bringing back marijuana prohibition,” said Tvert.
One of the first shops to open will be the 3-D Cannabis Center in Denver, which has sold medical marijuana for nearly four years, but will be moving to exclusively recreational pot in the 2014, said store owner Toni Fox.
She’s been working overtime preparing for the opening, but that hasn’t diminished her sense of excitement over the retail market’s much-anticipated debut on New Year’s Day.
“It’s a carnivalish, very festive atmosphere,” said Fox. “We’re making history.”
She rented a Port-A-Potty and hired a food truck for the customers who plan to camp out on the sidewalk outside her shop on Brighton Boulevard on New Year’s Eve. How many campers? She doesn’t know.
“I’ve heard people are going to spend the night outside the store,” said Fox. “It could be a dozen or it could be hundreds. But it’s New Year’s Eve in the Rocky Mountains, so they might change their minds when they see how cold it gets.”
Voters in Washington also approved retail marijuana in November 2012, but the state doesn’t plan to issue retail licenses until late February or March, with stores opening as early as June, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
“I think the difference being that Colorado [already] had a sophisticated medical-marijuana system, and they’re just transferring over to the recreational side of things,” said Smith. “We did not go that route and did not have a sophisticated medical-marijuana system in Washington to be able to do that.”
More than 30 Colorado shops, a third of those in Denver, have announced they’ll be ready to sell recreational pot starting Wednesday morning.
Fox says her biggest concern about opening day is running out of product, despite some last-minute purchases to boost her stock.