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Washington watches as Colorado pot stores open

Wednesday marked a historical day for marijuana advocates, as Colorado opened the first legal recreational pot stores in the world.

Under Colorado’s new law, anyone older than 21 can buy pot from licensed retailers but purchases can only be made with cash.

Legal Sale Of Recreational Marijuana Begins In Colorado

Tyler Williams of Blanchester, Ohio selects marijuana strains to purchase at the 3-D Denver Discrete Dispensary on January 1, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Legalization of recreational marijuana sales in the state went into effect at 8am this morning. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)

The lines were long, and many people stood in snow showers to be there when the stores opened their doors. Sean Azzariti was one of the very first customers.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Azzariti. “It’s huge, changing the world.”

The situation in Colorado is being closely watched by Alison Holcomb, who wrote I-502, which legalized pot in Washington. So far, the Liquor Control Board has received nearly 5,000 applications for pot businesses.

“A lot of what we heard during the campaign was that no one in their right minds would ever apply for one of these licenses,” said Holcomb. “Clearly that`s not the case. There`s lots of people excited about the possibility of participating in this new market.”

There are still a lot of challenges ahead before the first retail marijuana stores open in Washington this summer. Because marijuana on the federal level is still illegal, most banks won’t do business with pot entrepreneurs. They’ll also be denied federal tax deductions. Some communities around Washington are also rebelling against the idea of pot businesses in their backyard, with moratoriums and outright bans on them.

Holcomb believes pot entrepreneurs will be like any other small business owners in the state, just operating in a new industry. It’s an industry she also predicts will expand in 2014, with at least three more states legalizing marijuana.

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