Buyers line up as pot shops open in Washington state


A customer's marijuana purchase is bagged at Cannabis City in Seattle on July 8, the first day that sales of recreational pot became legal in Washington state. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
July 8

Eager customers lined up before dawn Tuesday as Washington became the second U.S. state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use, although shortages and high prices were likely to accompany any euphoria.

Store employees clapped and cheered at Top Shelf Cannabis in the northern city of Bellingham as its first buds were sold to a 29-year-old from Kansas, Cale Holdsworth.

“I’m happy to be a part of history,” said Holdsworth, who was on vacation visiting family and took his place at the front of the line at about 4 a.m.

Shops started to open a day after 25 outlets were issued licenses under a heavily regulated and taxed system approved by voters in November 2012.

The nation, and the federal government, will be watching Washington’s rollout as a broader trend of liberalization and pro-pot activism takes hold in the United States.

States like Colorado and Washington where recreational pot sales are legal are planning to implement new testing requirements for marijuana-laced food items. (Reuters)

While Colorado has been raking in millions of dollars a month in taxes since rolling out regulated retail sales in January, Washington has charted a glacial path to market. State regulators are still processing more than 300 license applications.

More than 100 people were outside Top Shelf Cannabis, in an industrial office park, when doors opened at 8 a.m.

A couple of miles away, Bellingham’s second licensed marijuana store, 2020 Solutions, remained closed as staff said a technical issue with the state’s tracking system had prohibited their producer from shipping their pot.

Customers can legally buy up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana per visit. They also can buy up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form or up to 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form.

Popular “edibles,” such as hash brownies, are not expected to be available as no processor has been cleared to operate a cannabis kitchen.

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