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First recreational marijuana seller in US expects sky-high revenue boost

Cue the "Rocky Mountain High" jokes.

A medical marijuana dispensary in Central City, Colo.a small gambling town nestled in the mountains near Denverjust became the first business in the United States licensed to sell marijuana to patrons without a note from their doctors.

Erin Phillips, the co-founder of medical marijuana chain Strainwise, announced this week that the Colorado Department of Revenue's marijuana enforcement division accepted the company's application for a recreational marijuana license on Nov. 15. She told CNBC on Friday that industry insiders estimate business can triple with the new license.

"We've done all kind of internal projections," Phillips said on "Squawk on the Street." "It's hard to say since nothing like this has ever happened before."

(Read more: New investors lighting up legal marijuana industry)

Aaron Ontiveroz | The Denver Post | Getty Images

The store, called The Annie's, will begin to sell recreational marijuana on Jan 1, and should expect plenty of out-of-state traffic. In-state customers can buy up to an ounce of marijuana each day while Annie's will limit out-of-state patrons to a quarter-of-an-ounce each day.

Colorado and Washington became the first states in the U.S. to allow recreational marijuana use last year, and Colorado voters recently approved a 25 percent tax on recreational marijuana.

Phillips told CNBC that she believes recreational marijuana can bring in half-a-billion dollars in taxable income to the state, despite a lower number of medical marijuana dispensaries applying for recreational licenses than first expected.

"The license process is very similar to what it was for medical marijuana," Phillips said. "We basically had to go through an extensive application process at both the state and the local jurisdiction level."

(Read more: A nice dad from Ohio gets into the pot business)

Recreational marijuana outlets cannot sell to customers younger than 21. The legal age for medical marijuana is 18. That meant The Annie's has had to revamp its customer screening process before the new year.

"Internally, that has caused us to put different security measures in place," Phillips said. "All of my staff have had to been trained similar to how bouncers are trained in bars to check for fake IDs. We also had to install magnetic ID readers to make sure that they're not fake."

(Read more: Astrodome doomed, Colorado schools go to pot)

The company's recreational license comes as the U.S. grows increasingly more lax toward marijuana use and enforcement. Twenty states now allow medical marijuana use. Colorado is the only state that allows growers to sell recreational marijuana directly to consumers.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street." The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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