Sales of Recreational MJ Begin in Washington State
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Sales of Recreational MJ Begin in Washington State
Posted by CN Staff on July 09, 2014 at 05:12:36 PT
By Kirk Johnson
Source: New York Times 
Seattle -- Caden Robinson, a 21-year-old college student, said he might not have stood in line for three hours to buy legal recreational marijuana when the first retail sales began here on Tuesday if his parents had not suggested it. “My dad said I should come,” said Mr. Robinson, a chemistry and chemical engineering major at the University of Puget Sound. “ ‘Go make history,’ ” he said, quoting his father.His friend Mark Rupprecht, 33, standing shirtless with other prospective buyers under a blazing sun, in a line that eventually grew to include several hundred people, said the sense of history, being part of a symbolic, turning-point moment, was powerful for him, too. “Something to tell my grandkids,” said Mr. Rupprecht, a bartender.
Washington’s experiment with licensed, legal recreational marijuana began tentatively in a handful of places around the state on Tuesday, with limited supplies — because licensed growers have not had time to bring in a full crop, certified by the state to be Washington-grown — but with great enthusiasm and hoopla in the places where the sales occurred.Where the experiment will lead after the novelty wears off remains deeply uncertain.Hardly anyone, for example, in a sampling of people who had come to wait for the opening of Cannabis City, a 620-square-foot shop in an industrial area of south Seattle, mentioned anything about actually getting high as a reason for a purchase. You don’t need a store for that, they said.“Maybe I’ll have it bronzed, make a trophy out of it,” C. J. Graham, 22, a recent graduate in biopsychology at Tufts University who was visiting family, said of his packet of pot.Doug Headley, 34, a software engineer, said he would probably divide his purchase and give it away as party favors. Cannabis City was selling packets of two grams for $40, enough for two to four large cigarettes, buyers said, or more smaller ones, though the law allows sales of up to an ounce, or about 28.3 grams.“Souvenirs for the barbecue tonight,” Mr. Headley said.Possessing marijuana in small amounts and consuming it at home has been legal in Washington for almost two years now, since voters passed Initiative 502 in 2012, and local law enforcement agencies had mostly backed off enforcing marijuana laws before that. It had not, however, been legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Tuesday.The state issued its first retail licenses on Monday, but required a 24-hour quarantine period for last-minute inspections.Nonlicensed marijuana, which remains illegal, and medical marijuana, which is still widely available, are cheaper and more convenient than the marijuana from retail stores, with their high state taxes — 25 percent on every purchase — and security cameras, many buyers said.Mr. Robinson, for example, has been using a business, rather like the Avon lady, that sends a person to his house with a single phone call with a suitcase of marijuana products to choose from. A response time of one hour or less is guaranteed.But the sense of novelty — that opening day only comes around once — was widespread. Deb Greene, 65, staked out a place in front of Cannabis City on Monday, wanting to be first in line, and held her two-gram brown-paper-wrapped purchase over her head like a prize fighter with a winning trophy belt at about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday.Others came to make a statement. Donna Dunlop said she planned buy marijuana. But she also came to denounce the tough marijuana laws that she said had put her brother, David Dunlop, in prison for seven years in the 1990s and led to health problems and his death at age 43. She carried a sign in his memory with the words, “Thank you, Washington,” at the bottom.Cale Holdsworth, 29, who was first in line at a shop in Bellingham, near the Canadian border, said it was a “happy coincidence” that brought him from his home in Abilene, Kan., to Washington for a family reunion just at the right moment to make a groundbreaking purchase.“This is a great moment,” he said.The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which administers recreational marijuana, issued 25 retail licenses around the state on Monday, with the first ones going to businesses that were both lucky — in landing a low lottery number in places that were oversubscribed with license applicants — and physically ready to open their doors.Statewide shortages of marijuana constricted things even more, since the law allows stores only to sell marijuana that has been grown in Washington by licensed producers, and the first licensed crop, begun in March, was mostly not ready for harvest.A bar-code system, with each plant assigned its own tracking number, is designed to prevent unlicensed marijuana from entering the retail system.A spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, Brian Smith, said the state was not tracking how many shops actually opened by the close of business on Tuesday, but some media reports put the number at as few as four, with more expected through the week.Mr. Smith said that more retail licenses would be issued as applicants are approved and ready. The state has authorized 334, with 21 of those here in Seattle. Mr. Robinson said he was not sure how much he might ultimately patronize the legal retail shops. But he said he thought for sure that his parents, who live in California, would love the idea and want to drop by one or two when they visit.A version of this article appears in print on July 9, 2014, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Sales of Recreational Marijuana Begin in Washington State. Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Kirk JohnsonPublished: July 9, 2014Copyright: 2014 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:   -- Cannabis  Archives 
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