People wait in the heat to enter Cannabis City during the
first day of legal retail marijuana sales in Seattle,
Washington. Photo by Reuters
Eager customers lined up before dawn as Washington became
the second US 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.
While Colorado has been raking in millions of dollars a month
in tax 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
More than 100 people were outside Top Shelf Cannabis, in an
industrial office park, when doors opened at 8am.
After Holdsworth's ID was checked to ensure he was 21 or
older, he picked out two grams (0.07 ounce) of "OG Pearl
Kush" for $26.50, which included about $6 in taxes.
His marijuana was placed in black plastic packaging labeled
with its name and strength.
"This is exactly what we need: proper education and
information," Holdsworth said. "It's a great step forward."
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.
Top Shelf owner Tom Beckley has offered his first 50 to 100
customers promotional pricing of $10 per gram, with prices
rising to $12-$25 per gram depending on quality and type.
Cannabis City, the only licensed retailer in Seattle, a city
of some 630,000 residents, planned to open with a "high noon"
Customers are legally allowed up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of
marijuana before buying more. They also can buy up to 16
ounces (454 grams) of marijuana-infused product in solid form
or up to 72 ounces (2 kg) of marijuana-infused product in
Shortages may mean prices of $25 to $30 a gram on Tuesday,
roughly twice the price at the state's weakly regulated
medical marijuana dispensaries.
However, some retailers said limiting early shoppers to
buying a few grams will help deal with shortages, due in part
to limited harvests by licensed growers, regulatory hurdles,
and an applicant backlog.
And popular "edibles," such as hash brownies, are not
expected to be available as no processor has been cleared to
operate a cannabis kitchen.