Colorado cannabis

An employee weighs portions of retail marijuana to be packaged and sold at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver. Marijuana sales in the state begin on New Year's Day. (Brennan Linsley / Associated Press / December 31, 2013)

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Colorado kicked off 2014 with a historic first as legal sales of marijuana for recreational use officially began at stores around the state.

Although many states allow medical marijuana, Colorado and Washington in 2012 became the first states in the nation to legalize pot for recreational purposes for adults. Washington is expected to pave the way for recreational pot dispensaries to open later this year.

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Nearly 350 retail marijuana licenses have been issued to Colorado businesses, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division, the agency under Colorado's Department of Revenue that regulates the industry. The licenses included 136 pot shops, 178 cultivation facilities and three testing sites.

The agency said only a fraction of those shops had cleared the inspection hurdles quickly enough to open by New Year's Day.

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For more than a year, adults in Colorado and Washington have been able to legally smoke or eat pot. But Wednesday marks the first day that pot shops can legally sell to customers without a doctor's note and medical marijuana card.

Now, anyone living in Colorado who is 21 or older can buy one ounce of marijuana. Out-of-state visitors can buy one-fourth of an ounce, as long as it is used within state boundaries.

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