That looooong line outside Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham this morning? It kept going strong 10:27 a.m., nearly two and a half hours after the first legal pot sale in Washington, when the last person filed in the door.
By that time, a pizza truck had pulled into the parking lot to feed the crowd. Top Shelf sold out (230 bags of two grams worth) of their first variety, OG Pearl Kush, one employee said.
Kudos to the pot shop's crew and their customers. The former were highly organized and on top of their game, expertly managing the media; the latter, patient and universally friendly. Before I left, Ward Nelson, the store's manager, walked across the parking lot towards the pizza truck and exclaimed, "The state's got nothing to worry or complain about!"
Yes, Washington's pot legalization is very far from perfect. I heard folks grumbling about the high prices. Some said other drugs ought to be decriminalized. People mused, their brown bags of pot in hand, that demand will outstrip the legal supply, leaving the underground market thriving. One man stood outside holding a marijuana stem and complained that it's still virtually impossible for him to start his industrial hemp textile manufacturing business.
But to focus on all of that would be to miss the most important part of the day: the symbolism of being able to legally get a bag of pot like you would a bottle of beer. All the folks in the video above who definitely are not smoking their first batch of weed today? They were all giddy at the thought.
"I remember smoking out in the woods" to avoid being seen, said Kyle Szegredi, a graphic design student at Whatcom Community College who's on the cusp of transferring to Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill. "And now it's come this far to where I can walk into a store and buy legal marijuana." He says he probably won't bother with risking fines or under-the-table buys any more.
"All my friends smoked weed" in high school, he says. "I gotta be a bit more adult now. This feels more adult." Washington's growing up!