Firing up bongs and cheering in a cloud of marijuana smoke, pot users in Colorado hailed the arrival of the nation's first recreational pot industry Wednesday.
Retail sales weren't to begin until 8 a.m. But marijuana fans didn't wait to celebrate the industry.
"Honestly, I thought I'd never see the day," said a giddy Errin Reaume of Denver, who shared hits of concentrated marijuana at a 1920s-themed "Prohibition Is Over" party in downtown Denver.
Across town, a dispensary was setting up a food truck and coffee service for campers awaiting the opening of sales on so-called Green Wednesday. Temperatures were in the upper 30s — balmy for a January night in Colorado — and revelers ditched hemp jackets and sweaters as they alternated between horn blowers and joints and bongs.
Pot activists hope the marijuana experiment will prove the legalization is a better alternative than the costly American-led drug war. Skeptics worry the industry will make the drug more widely available to teens, even though legal sales are limited to adults over 21.
Preparation for the retail market started more than a year ago, soon after Colorado voters in 2012 approved the legal pot industry. Washington state has its own version, which is scheduled to open in mid-2014.