Nightly News   |  January 01, 2014

Colo. Residents Now Can Buy Recreational Pot

The state is the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> in colorado today the start of a new industry as that state became the first in the country to make it legal for most people to buy marijuana. on this first day of pot sales, business was booming. nbc's gabe gutierrez is in denver for us tonight. hi, gabe.

>> reporter: lester, good evening. the line is still going strong. many customers here calling this an historic day. colorado has the most regulated system to sell recreational marijuana in the world. under a flurry of white, they waited for green.

>> i wanted to be first. i have been waiting 34 years for this.

>> $59.74.

>> reporter: in a photo op , sean azaritti was the first customer. an iraq war veteran who said pot helps relieve ptsd.

>> reporter: what's the biggest misconception about marijuana smokers?

>> that we are just lazy stoners.

>> reporter: darren and his son drove from georgia and slept overnight in the car.

>> it's significant for everybody.

>> the world is watching.

>> reporter: colorado residents 21 and over can buy an ounce of marijuana. those from out of state, up to a quarter ounce. colorado estimates almost $600 million in sales this year. taxes are expected to bring in $67 million in revenue -- much of that set aside for building schools.

>> this is a whole new world t not having to be underground about it. be with all sneaky about it.

>> reporter: there are restrictions. you can't light up in public. no pot at the denver airport or carried across state lines. . police warn you still can't drive high.

>> we are still doing the old impairment. the standard field sobriety test.

>> reporter: marijuana opponents worry sales will attract the wrong type of tourists and set a bad example.

>> it is a big experiment. unfortunately the kids are the barometer.

>> reporter: so far there are at least 17 recreational marijuana sellers open in denver. but more than a hundred others applied for licenses throughout the state. "the denver post " hired a full-time marijuana editor.

>> i'm a proud colorado native, a snowboarder, you know, all of the stuff that comes along with being from here. now this is just yet another part of that legacy.

>> reporter: tonight, a mile high peerexperiment is under way and the world is watching. this is not just an issue in colorado . washington state plans tole roll out its recreational marijuana sales in late spring. we could see ballot initiatives in other states over the next