Stores in Denver, CO are gearing up to begin selling marijuana for recreational use early next week. The first wave of 14 businesses and 17 growers received licenses today, The Associated Press reports, the latest in a years-long process to legalize the recreational drug in the state. It was cleared for personal use more than a year ago, but it's taken longer to get businesses up and running due to a permit process that involves inspections and security requirements. There's also been a moratorium on sales that lifts next week. More licenses are expected to be doled out as state officials approve additional applications from businesses that hope to capitalize on the policy change.

Sales start on New Year's Day

The legalization of marijuana remains a hot-button topic in the US. Technically it's illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, though the Justice Department has said it won't challenge individual state laws that permit medical or recreational use. Both Washington and Colorado have passed local amendments that legalize it, though similar measures have faltered (multiple times) in places like Oregon. A recent Gallup poll suggested that 58 percent of Americans are keen to legalize the drug, a first since the metric was recorded in 1969.

The local Denver sales begin January 1, 2014, just in time for New Year's Day hangovers.