Residents of Washington state could buy recreational marijuana legally for the first time yesterday, though only about six of the 24 shops issued licenses planned to be open on the first day, reports the Christian Science Monitor. It’s a sharp contrast to Colorado, which voted legalized marijuana at the same time as Washington in 2012, but where pot shops have been selling the drug to recreational users since Jan. 1 of this year. Colorado issued 136 licenses to sell recreational pot before that date; only about 40 began selling it in the first week of January. The two states have been under scrutiny as they embark on test cases in legalization, watched by everyone from legalization critics to advocates pushing legal marijuana in other states, including Oregon and Alaska. Observers are keeping tabs on how smoothly the rollout goes and on the differences in the states’ approaches.
“We're watching [the legalization process in Colorado and Washington] very closely, and it's very useful,” says Peter Zuckerman of New Approach Oregon, which has helped craft a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon that will be on the ballot in November. The area of legalization under the most scrutiny in Colorado is the sale of “edibles” – marijuana-laced chocolate, candy, and other food items that critics say are appealing to children and are more potent, especially for novice users, than customers might realize. In March, a college student visiting from Wyoming jumped to his death from a balcony after eating a pot cookie. Another man shot and killed his wife after eating pot-laced Karma Kandy.