Hundreds lineup in downtown Denver for retail pot

As reported by the Denver Business Journal

Hundreds of people lined up Wednesday morning in downtown Denver for the chance to legally buy marijuana for a non-medical use for the first time.

The line at LoDo Wellness Center, 1617 Wazee St., ran almost a half a block long as building owner Donald C. Andrews handed out red tickets so people didn’t have to wait in the cold, but could come back.

Most, however, stayed.

“We’ve got a special deal waiting for the person who gets ticket number 420,” said a smiling Andrews, whose wife, Linda Andrews, owns LoDo Wellness, one of the first dispensaries in Denver to be issued a licenses by the city and state to sell marijuana to anyone over 21 years old.

Sales were limited to a quarter-ounce of weed, or its equivalent in edible product, and people were waiting more than two hours to buy it.

> MORE: The line of retail marijuana customers never ebbed Wednesday, one owner reports > Marijuana stores open for business in Colorado (Slideshow, Video) > The DBJ on public radio: Dennis Huspeni talks about the debut of pot sales in Colorado (Audio) > Marijuana goes on sale in Colorado: What they’re saying

Henry, 54, of Denver, was one of the first customers. He declined to give his last name, but said he’d lived in Denver for more than 20 years.

“I’m very proud of our state right now,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about getting arrested. I think this is going to end up benefiting the state.”

Henry bought the equivalent of an eighth of an ounce of hash product for $60.

“We honestly didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

As per the request of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, employees handed out a red card with every sale that had city laws spelled out on where consumption is legal: basically in a private residence with the owner’s permission.

“We are all about compliance, compliance, compliance,” he said.

Dan Mills, 56, of Minneapolis, dressed to the nines for the occasion — wearing a tuxedo. Turns out he was visiting Colorado for his son’s wedding and used the suit twice.

“I guess you could say we hit it at the right time,” he said.

Mills was accompanied by his wife and adult daughter. They’ve been users for years.

“It feels like prohibition is ending,” Mills said. “You guys are going to get a lot of tourists from this. I think this will be good for Denver and good for Colorado.”

He predicted black-market sales of marijuana in Colorado would decline with the advent of legal sales.

“I’ll pay more for legal marijuana so I don’t have to fund any cartels and I know exactly what I’m getting,” he said.

> DBJ coverage: Marijuana in Colorado

St. Louis residents Desiree Cain, 22, and Nick Halloran, 23, were visiting friends and decided to take part in what they called a historic day.

“It still feels a little weird, but I was also very curious — I’ve never been in a dispensary,” Halloran said. “It’s almost more comfortable.”

They didn’t mind the wait either, and laughed about trying for hours at home to get pot from friends.

“This is big step going retail like this,” said Cain. “More people [around the nation] are going to be more comfortable about it now if it works here. These are all small steps.”

Everyone interviewed had the opinion that there would be more new users initially out of curiosity, and possibly more overall after the novelty wears off, but that most who want or need marijuana now can get it.

“Now there’s a safe option to try it, and you won’t get in trouble, and if you don’t like it, don’t use it anymore,” Halloran said.

“I got here at 6 [a.m.] this morning and there were already people at the door and it’s been non-stop,” said Linda Andrews, owner. “We are definitely going to have enough inventory. We are prepared.”

In Denver, stores must close by 7 p.m.