Nightly News   |  December 31, 2013

Pot Sales to Bring Colorado Millions in Revenue

Colorado is preparing to make history as it becomes the first state to sell recreational marijuana – but the change is not without controversy. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> we're back with what may be a sign of shifting attitudes in this country, as colorado becomes the first state to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use. the law goes into effect tomorrow as the experiment will be widely watched. nbc's gabe gutierrez reports from denver.

>> reporter: in the mile high city today, the countdown to a historic rollout.

>> it will be a good test for the rest of the states.

>> reporter: colorado , about to become the first state to allow the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

>> how busy do you expect to be tomorrow.

>> we'll estimate that we'll see 800 to a thousand people.

>> reporter: she is one of a dozen denver licensed sellers. customers must be 21 or older to buy, those with the colorado id, and those with out of state buys limited to a quarter of an ounce. this man has 30 pounds of pot set aside for sale.

>> we have our security staff lined up, my parents are bringing coffee and cookies to hand out to people in line.

>> reporter: colorado is the pioneer for medical marijuana , but voters approved the recreational pot in 2012 . since then, the state built the most complex regulations in the world. state taxes topped 25% and strict rules for growers and sellers.

>> no other substance is treated the same way where the federal government considers every transaction to be a crime and the state has said we're for this.

>> reporter: a tourism industry is already taking root. and this pot tour bus is taking reservations.

>> surprisingly it is a much older group of clients. you know, you have your lawyers and doctors and people you wouldn't assume or think would do -- smoke marijuana.

>> reporter: but not everyone is behind this rocky mountain high .

>> i think it will be a huge disaster. there are just some things that there are more harms to society than there are benefits to it.

>> reporter: colorado expects to rake in tens of millions of dollars a year in sales tax revenue. they expect long lines here tomorrow. but one of the big questions , erica, how long will this supply last?

>> all right, gabe gutierrez tonight, thank you.