An Inside Look At One Of Colorado's First Recreational Marijuana - Fox 2 News Headlines

An Inside Look At One Of Colorado's First Recreational Marijuana Shops

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DENVER,CO-Some call it the "great green experiment," the legalization of marijuana in some form has now spread to more than 20 states.

New Jersey is one of them and Pennsylvania may be headed that way.

So what does legal pot look like? FOX 29's Chris O' Connell went to Colorado to get an inside look at one of the first recreational pot shops in Denver.

John McCoy originally from Upper Darby thought he may have wandered into an Apple store. But look a little closer and you'll see they're not selling smartphones.

"Wow, never have thought I'd see the day," said McCoy, who currently lives in Arizona.

That day was January 1st, when recreational marijuana in Colorado became legal for anyone 21 and over. Since then, the pot industry has been smoking.

It’s a 3D Cannabis Center, which is one of more than 340 marijuana dispensaries in Denver alone. After flashing his ID, O’Connell was welcomed by Billy Archilla, a "budtender," a pot connoisseur, if you will.

"There's effects, there's smells, there' flavors,” said Archilla.

He’s not talking about wine, he's talking about weed.

"It's all full bud,” said Archilla.

The 3D Cannabis Center has high-grade marijuana, each with a different name.

"We call it the 'Presidential Kush,'" said Archilla.

Then he showed O'Connell another kind.

"It's a house strain called 'Orange Kush,'" said Archilla."This is going to be a very sedative high for the body, definitely a late afternoon, early evening high."

Customers range from bartenders to teachers and politicians.

"As a cannabis educator, I take everybody by the hand," said Archilla."To the person that's been smoking 30 to 40 years, to the person that's decided to try it because there's no risk now and they want to see what the talk is about."

And that's just the beginning, much of what is sold is edible marijuana, including pot infused granola bars, truffles, cookies, even red Swedish fish. All with doses of THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis.

Shops are required to grow 75% of what they sell in growhouses.

"Our whole industrial area here in Denver I'd say more than 70% of those buildings are occupied by legal cannabis growth," said Archilla.

So what has legal pot done for Colorado? Some say the social and economic implications are staggering. In the last 6 months, according to Denver Police, violent and property crimes are down 10%. In addition, there’s a run on real estate, an increase in jobs, and an estimated 30-50 million dollars a year in tax revenue. Most of the money is going to fund local schools.

"We are in a better place we were before it was legal," said magazine publisher Diane Fornbacher.

Fornbacher runs a marijuana website devoted to women. She moved to Colorado from Collingswood, New Jersey 4 months ago.

She says the restrictive marijuana laws back east forced the move.

"If you regulate the system in a way that understands that it's a market that needs to be answered to it will work," said Fornbacher.

However, some say it's not working.

"I think as a state you should tread very, very slowly," said Gina Carbone with Smart Colorado.

Carbone is sending a warning to other states considering what Colorado has already done.

"There is a difference between decriminalization, legalization, and then full on commercialization, and in Colorado, unfortunately, we've done all three," she said.

The  group says legalization is sending the wrong message to kids. Carbone says Colorado has the highest pot use among teens.

But for most in Colorado, this is the new normal, and for McCoy, it's about time.

"I think we're heading towards legalization in most of the country. And for people like us we dont' do alcohol. We think this is a much safer thing," said McCoy.

Whether or not this will be what New Jersey and Pennsylvania look like in the future remains to be seen.

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