Washington became the second state Tuesday to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as customers eager to be the first to buy pot lined up outside stores.
People began purchasing marijuana at 8 a.m. at Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, one of two stores in the city north of Seattle that started selling pot as soon as it was allowed under state regulations. Several dozen people waited outside before the store opened.
The first three customers in line were residents of Kansas, in Bellingham for their grandfather's 84th birthday. Sarah Gorton, 24, of Abilene, Kansas, came with her younger brother Robbie, as well as her boyfriend.
"It's just a happy coincidence and an opportunity we're not going to have for a long time," said Sarah Gorton, a 24-year-old with dreadlocks and homemade jewelry. "I'm really thrilled to be a part of something that I never thought would happen."
The start of legal pot sales in Washington marks a major step that's been 20 months in the making.
Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21, and to create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot. Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1.
Washington issued its first 24 retail licenses Monday, though not all businesses planned to start selling weed on Tuesday. It's been a bit of a bumpy ride in Washington state, with product shortages expected as growers and sellers scramble to get ready.
Pot prices were expected to reach $25 a gram or higher on the first day of sales - twice what people pay in the state's unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries. That was largely due to the short supply of legally produced pot in the state. Although more than 2,600 people applied to become licensed growers, fewer than 100 have been approved - and only about a dozen were ready to harvest by early this month.
Colorado already had a regulated medical marijuana system, making for a smoother transition when it allowed those dispensaries to start selling to recreational pot shops on Jan. 1.
Washington's medical system is unregulated, so officials here were starting from scratch as they immersed themselves in the pot world and tried to come up with regulations that made sense for the industry and the public. The regulations include protocols for testing marijuana, what types of edibles should be allowed, requirements for child-resistant packaging, how much criminal history is too much to get a license, and what types of security systems pot shops and growers should have.
Washington law allows the sale of up to an ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of pot-infused solids, 72 ounces of pot-infused liquids or 7 grams of concentrated marijuana, like hashish, to adults over 21
Mike Boyer took the day off from work and waited in line for 20 hours to buy legal marijuana.
His high was quickly brought low.
A Spokane, Wash. man was fired from his job as a security guard the same day he became the first person to legally buy weed in the city Tuesday.
“I don’t regret it,” Mike Boyer told the Daily News Wednesday. “I’m sad it happened but I got the title: I’m No. 1. I regret nothing.”
Spokane, North Idaho News
Boyer took Tuesday off from his job and set up camp outside Spokane Green Leaf around 7 p.m. Monday. Almost 20 hours later, around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Boyer was first in the door when the pot dispensary opened its doors to sell legal marijuana.
“We don’t line up for Black Friday, we line up for ‘Green Tuesday,’” the 30-year-old told The News. “People camp out for Star Wars and donuts ... this is more important than that.”
Mike Boyer, 30, featured on newscast as the first person to legally buy weed in Spokane, Wash. Is promptly fired from his job as a security guard after he’s featured on a local newscast. kxly Mike Boyer, 30, featured on newscast as the first person to legally buy weed in Spokane, Wash. Is promptly fired from his job as a security guard after he’s featured on a local newscast.
Dressed in sunglasses and a garish tie-dye T-shirt, Boyer yelled, “Go Washington!” as he made his historic purchase.
He walked out with four grams of Sour Kush and high-fived people waiting in line as he held his bag of weed aloft, yelling “first customer!” as he walked to his car and immediately went home to get high.
Mike Boyer, 30, picks out his Sour Kush at a Spokane, Wash. dispensary on Tuesday. KHQ Mike Boyer, 30, picks out his Sour Kush at a Spokane, Wash. dispensary on Tuesday.
Boyer’s phone buzzed as he took his first few hits: His employer wanted him to come in and take a urine analysis test within 24 hours. A client had seen the security guard on a newscast and was concerned about the drug use, Boyer said.
The test came back positive for THC, according to Boyer.
Boyer exaults after he makes the first legal weed purchase in Spokane. KHQ Boyer exaults after he makes the first legal weed purchase in Spokane.
“I’ve worked for them on and off for 12 years and several years ago, I signed a document that said I wouldn’t have (THC) in my system,” he said. “I don’t smoke at work!”
“It’s the first day, who's not gonna run down?” Boyer added. “People who hadn’t smoked since the ‘70s and ‘80s were coming down just to be there. It was the day of days.”
Mike Boyer, 30, is excited as he’s allowed into Green Leaf Spokane. KHQ Mike Boyer, 30, is excited as he’s allowed into Green Leaf Spokane.
After being fired, the Spokane native posted his resume to Craigslist in the hopes of landing a new gig — hopefully in the marijuana industry, he said.
“I’m staying positive,” Boyer said.
Recreational marijuana was officially sold legally beginning on Tuesday. KHQ Recreational marijuana was officially sold legally beginning on Tuesday.
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