The sale of pot for recreational consumption is now legal in Seattle, and about 150 people showed up in SODO today to make sure. That was the crowd estimate made by security guards at Cannabis City at noon, as staffers in black polo shirts at the city’s first pot retailer readied to open doors to the public.
By midday there were perhaps more local, national and international members of the media on hand to cover the event then grams of marijuana for sale (Cannabis City staffers said they issued 47 press passes before eventually running out). After hours of waiting, the air in front of the doors had become a heady mix of marijuana scent and sweat. But that didn’t seem to bother most of the folks lining up to buy.
Deborah Greene, the 65-year-old grandmother who’d waited overnight to be the shop’s first customer, admitted she’s not much of a smoker. “For me, at least, this is a new freedom and I just want to be a part of it,” she said.
Be sure to check out the slideshow of Canabis City's opening
However, some in the assembled crowd took to grumbling about the imperfect regulations set by the Washington State Liquor Control Board and they’re various and sundry problems—high prices, demand outstripping supply, etc.
Steve Sarich, long a marijuana decriminalization zealot, showed up to the festivities wearing a t-shirt that read “Save Medical Marijuana.” As he enthusiastically pointed out, marijuana remains listed on as a Schedule 1 narcotic on the US Controlled Substances Act. “As long as people continue to be arrested for growing it and consuming it, marijuana is not legal,” he said.
After sitting in the sun for an hour, one young man gave up his spot in line rather than wait for VIP’s like Allison Holcomb of the Washington state branch of the ACLU and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes—who bought two bags of marijuana—to finish taking their bow for the assembled press and keep the line moving. “It’s not like I can’t go get something just as strong somewhere else,” said Martique Henton. “It’s everywhere.”
The complaints are natural, and not altogether unexpected. The state’s system for legalized weed is the type of mess that results when a legislature made up of teetotalers is charged with legalizing one of the most consumed illegal substances in the country. And there’s no proof yet whether the system can replace the black market for marijuana.
Still, most of the crowd—a mix of young enthusiasts and hippie types--who do stick around are happy to wait for the chance to be a part of state history.
At fifteen minutes past noon, after the Cannabis City staffers resolved a computer glitch and owner James Lathrop cut the ceremonial police tape blocking the door, they got their chance.