The High Life: Washington's Epic First Day With Legal Pot

The state joined Colorado in openly selling weed for non-medicinal purposes.

(Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images)

Jul 9, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Michael Sugerman is a summer intern at TakePart and a student at the University of Michigan, where he reports for the school newspaper, The Michigan Daily.

Months ago, Washington's law legalizing recreational pot—puff, puff—passed, and on Tuesday, it went into effect. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

State officials, under the purview of the Liquor Control Board, issued 24 marijuana retailer licenses Monday morning, and after a 24-hour grace period, the dispensaries opened to the public. Of these, only one vendor is in Seattle—a city of roughly 635,000 residents.

Washington became the second state to legalize recreational pot sales after it passed a ballot initiative in November 2012, with 55.7 percent of voters supporting the bill.

Colorado was the first to do so, in January of this year. Interestingly, some Colorado news outlets have reported statewide public benefits as a result of the sales. According to RT, crime in Denver has dropped by 10 percent, and Colorado will accrue roughly $30 million in revenue from the tax on weed.

The lone Seattle store, Cannabis City, opened its doors to consumers at noon, although some patrons lined up hours before.

Shipments of prepackaged marijuana arrived at Cannabis City on Tuesday morning at around 7 a.m. As of now, USA Today reports, a two-gram bag will sell for $54.

This price is higher than standard medicinal rates (on average, two grams of marijuana cost closer to $30) and it may rise. According to another USA Today article, the store only ordered a shipment of 2,265 small bags, which falls short of the demand of its projected first 5,000 customers.

Given the potential scarcity of product, at least in the first weeks of recreational sales, lining up took on a greater importance—despite the hiked weed prices, one man outside Cannabis City was willing to pay top dollar to stand toward the front of the queue.

In a somewhat symbolic move, Cannabis City's owner, James Lathrop, did not hold a ribbon-cutting to open the shop. Instead, he covered the entrance in police tape to be taken down at "high noon."

As for why the store would be opening at noon (pun and games aside), Lathrop told the Associated Press, "Know your audience: We're talking stoners here. I'd be mean to say they need to get up at 5 a.m. to get in line."

At Cannabis City, it seems that "stoners" won't be the only benefactors of marijuana sales—elected officials will be making appearances as well. Seattle's city attorney made a purchase Tuesday, and ACLU attorney Alison Holcomb, who helped draft Initiative 502, bought two bags of weed.

Some potential patrons already had the munchies. The Subway next door made a killing off hungry folks standing in line.