On a hot and noisy North Spokane corridor today, about 200 people formed a line around a drab strip mall — home to a jazzercize center — all ready to be a part of making history.
Washington on Tuesday became the second state with a legal and regulated recreational marijuana market when a small handful of stores opened across the state. The day has been 20 months in the making, since voters approved a ballot initiative in 2012 legalizing the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana and directing the state's Liquor Control Board to craft regulations for the new industry. The board began licensing growers in March and issued the first retail store licenses Monday, with three going to stores in Spokane. Just one was ready to open today: Spokane Green Leaf near the corner of Division Street and Country Homes Boulevard.
As the line grew and the clock neared 2 pm, the door swung open for Spokane's first legal recreational marijuana sale. Above the cheering came a throaty cry: "Legal weed!" Store employees ushered customers in and out a few at a time, offering two-gram and four-gram packages of bud for $50 and $100 (including tax), respectively. For reference: A store in Bellingham was selling two grams for $26.50, and Seattle's only store to open today was charging about $40 for two-gram packages. According to online sources like Weedmaps, medical marijuana costs between $10 and $15 a gram in Spokane.
But the cost was worth the novelty to those outside Green Leaf today, including a few dedicated customers who camped overnight.
"It's way overpriced," said Alex Rehberg, the second person in line, "but it's worth it to be here on the first day."
Look for your full guide to recreational pot in Washington in this week's Inlander.