Colorado prepares for legal marijuana sales

7:26 AM, Nov 9, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - When legal sales of marijuana begin on New Year's Day in Colorado, the first stores will all be medical marijuana shops, which obtained licenses for recreational pot.

Both the marijuana companies and the state have a lot of work to do before then.

The state has to finish a set of rules for the taxes voters approved this week and the businesses need to make sure the way they grow and sell this product is compliant with those rules.

They're also preparing for an influx of business.

The Medicine Man in Northeast Denver, plans to sell both medical and recreational pot next year.

Much like the product, the business is growing like a weed.

"We are redesigning our entire dispensary," said owner Andy Williams. "When we're done it'll be about 3,000 square feet."

Behind the scenes, workers are painting the floors to prepare a new warehouse space for growing pot, which will more than double the capacity for plants.

Next year, plants will have to be designated while they're growing either for medical or recreational use.

When the recreational plants are dried out to be sold, the company will have to pay out a wholesale tax to the state.

A group assembled by the Department of Revenue spent Friday at the state capitol working on rules for that tax.

They're talking about creating a tax stamp to apply to each pound of wholesale pot.

The excise tax will be 15 percent of the average price, but the state plans to set one price for the highly valuable bud (the flower of the plant) and another for the trim (the rest of the plant) which is less valuable, but can be used to make things like brownies and concentrates of THC.

One thing the state can't fix is the trouble pot shops have finding banks.

Because pot is illegal under federal law, many banks shy away.

Some pot businesses even pay their taxes in cash.

"If we're transporting large sums of money to the bank or to the state or whatever, we're not the only targets, there's innocent bystanders," Williams said.

Williams hopes Congress will allow banks to work with businesses like his.

In the meantime, he's moving ahead, planning for more hands-on customer service when a new crop of customers rolls in.

"The ins and outs of marijuana. How do you use it this way, how do you use it that way, what should I look out for? Should I eat the whole brownie," said Williams.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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