News Column

'Free the Weed': Scenes From Washington Pot Sales

July 8, 2014

By The Associated Press

Washington started retail sales today of recreational marijuana, becoming just the second state. (AP)
Washington started retail sales today of recreational marijuana, becoming just the second state. (AP)

As employees worked frantically to prepare the shelves and assess their inventory at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Washington, 22-year-old Zoe Wainwright was among the dozens in line early Tuesday waiting for legal marijuana sales to begin.

The Bellingham man said he's an occasional pot user, but primarily went to take pictures of the scene for his 64-year-old father, who was out of town.

"He's been waiting for this a long time," Wainwright said. "He grew up in the '60s and '70s."

Cale Holdsworth, a 29-year-old from Abilene, Kansas, was the first customer to buy pot at Top Shelf when it opened at 8 a.m.

Holdsworth, who manages a parts department at an RV dealership in Kansas, says he uses the drug to stimulate his appetite and help him sleep, and because he likes it.

"It just makes you feel good, and there is nothing wrong with that," he said.

In Seattle, the city's first pot shop welcomed customers in the SoDo neighborhood at noon. Dozens of media waited alongside dozens of customers for the doors of Cannabis City to open.

Store owner James Lathrop, holding a large scissors to cut the ribbon for the official opening, said it was time to "free the weed."

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who supported efforts to legalize the drug, was on hand to watch the scene.

Mike Boyer, 30, of Spokane, lined up in front of the Spokane Green Leaf marijuana store at 7 p.m. Monday and was first in line as the store prepared to open Tuesday afternoon.

A line of more than 70 people wound around Spokane Green Leaf, waiting for the 2 p.m. opening.

"I wanted the title of being the first guy to buy legal marijuana in Spokane," Boyer said. "It only comes once in a lifetime."

The store is in a strip mall on Spokane's north side, near a driving school, a CrossFit studio and an ice cream shop.

About an hour after sales began at Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, John Evich, an investor in the store, came out to tell customers that things were still going a little slowly because staff had to count packages of pot that were late in arriving Tuesday morning. He urged folks to be patient.

Tom Beckley, the owner, said Tuesday's sales were the culmination of months of work following the 2012 passage by voters of measures legalizing recreational pot in Washington and Colorado.

"I think it's incredible that people are finally getting their way on their vote," Beckley said. "It's nice to see everybody out here on a positive and happy manner."

Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes and Gene Johnson in Bellingham and Seattle contributed to this report, along with Nick Geranios in Spokane.

Source: Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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