DENVER (AP) -- Colorado and Washington State will launch the world's first legal recreational marijuana markets in 2014. Though pot has been sold for three decades at coffee shops in the Netherlands, the two states are the first to regulate and allow a full industry.
Being first to allow growing it, processing it and selling it doesn't come without risks. The states face plenty -- from a potential crackdown over a drug that's still illegal under federal law, to threats to public health.
A look at some of the pitfalls the two states will want to avoid as Big Weed tries to go mainstream:
YOUTH USE: The U.S. Department of Justice has told the states it won't interfere with state marijuana laws as long as they keep the drug away from those without permission to use it. Top of that list: children. Neither state will allow people under 21 to buy pot.
HEALTH: Some doctors warn that increased marijuana use will result in more emergency-room visits. There's not enough data to show if that is happening, though some hospitals have reported spikes in child admissions for pot overdoses. With no Food and Drug Administration oversight, the two states are producing their own product-safety standards to make sure pot is as potent as labeled and doesn't contain harmful molds or other contaminants.
SMUGGLING: The states have also been told they must keep legal pot out of other states and off federal property. That's no small task in Western states with huge swaths of federal property, such as parks and ski areas. The states will allow visitors to buy pot, but also warn them about where they can and can't take it.