World watches as US state makes cannabis completely legal
Others may quickly follow Colorado's world-first venture
Picture: BBC News/AP
Long queues have been seen as the world's first state-licensed marijuana industry opened for business in the US state of Colorado.
Hordes of customers braved bitter cold and snow at about two dozen outlets across the mountainous state.
Residents aged 21 and over can buy 1oz (28g), while those from out of the state can purchase up to 0.25oz.
Washington state has also legalised cannabis, and is expected to allow the drug's sale later this year.
Colorado's system differs from the Netherlands in that the Dutch have never legalised cannabis, even though the purchase and consumption of small amounts of the drug have been informally permitted since 1976.
Last month, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalise pot, but it has yet to set up its system.
Blustery winter weather could not deter Colorado's cannabis consumers from turning out in large numbers on 1 January, dubbed Green Wednesday, to see history in the making.
Joints, cannabis pastries and confectionary, and even marijuana-infused soaps, oils and lotions were on sale at licensed dispensaries.
Under the new rules, cannabis can only be smoked on private premises, with the permission of the owners.
Police reportedly issued citations to several shoppers who appeared to be under the impression that the new rules allowed them to smoke pot in public.
"It's a huge deal for me," Andre Barr, a 34-year-old deliveryman who drove all the way from the state of Michigan, told the Associated Press news agency. "This wait is nothing."
Jacob Elliott, 31, a defence contractor from Leesburg, Virginia, near Washington DC, told Reuters news agency as he queued outside the 3D Cannabis Center in Denver: "I never thought it would happen."
Colorado's policy places it at the forefront of efforts in the US to legalise cannabis. In 18 other states, marijuana is approved for medical purposes, though the drug is still illegal under federal law.
The US Department of Justice has advised Colorado officials to ensure the drug remains within state borders or face a federal crackdown.
Signs at Denver International Airport warn travellers they are forbidden to take the drug home with them.
Store owners stocked up, hired extra security and prepared celebrations for their Green Wednesday grand opening.
But it wasn't just the customers that were high - the prices were enough to give some a sore head.
One dispensary was charging $70 (£42) for one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis, nearly three times what medical marijuana patients had been paying just a day earlier for the same amount.
Source: BBC News
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