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How the media (almost) killed Seattle’s first legal buzz

Amidst a crush of reporters, a crowd waited to be a part of an historic day.
Deb Green, with a souvenir first purchase she wants MOHAI to have

Deb Green, with a souvenir first purchase she wants MOHAI to have Credit: Emily Wooldridge

Reporters and pot-enthusiasts created a circus in front of Cannabis City, Seatle's first recreational pot store.

Reporters and pot-enthusiasts created a circus in front of Cannabis City, Seatle's first recreational pot store. Emily Wooldridge

The opening of Seattle’s first retail pot shop amassed a zoo. While members of the media crowded Cannabis City’s front door, flapping their press passes and craning their cameras like giraffes, about 200 people waited in 80-plus degree heat.

Passing out water to the crowd, a Cannabis City cashier said she had passed out dozens of bottles already. 

Car drivers — and a Waste Management truck — honked as they drove past the store near Fourth Avenue South and Lander Street. But were they simply tooting in celebration or, in part, as a warning to all those reporters trickling into traffic?

While a Cannabis City security guard repeatedly asked reporters to stay behind fencing, Seattle’s first recreational pot shoppers were allowed inside Cannabis City 13 minutes after the scheduled noon opening (a delay that had produced some shouted complaints from would-be customers). A Cannabis City employee wearing a red hat screened media requests for entry, holding a clipboard with what she said was a list of about four dozen different media agencies from across the country.

But, in the festive atmosphere, reporters generally were given something akin to V.I.P. treatment. They entered the store before many people who had been waiting in line since the wee hours of the morning.

“I’ve moved 25 feet. in one hour,” said a man who had been waiting in line since 9 a.m. to buy Seattle’s first legal bud. “It’s because of those V.I.Ps, but that’s just part of the show.”

A Cannabis City cashier Andrew Powers predicted that it would be unlikely for Cannabis City to run out of supply by closing time, simply because only a handful of people were let in at a time.

With bright yellow trim outside and a clean-cut logo sporting Seattle’s trademark Space Needle, Cannabis City appeared far friendlier than most places people have been able to purchase pot up till now. The space is clean, with walls painted a sophisticated green, and the staff was friendly.

Andrew and Adam Powers, Cannabis City cashiers and twin brothers, were happy to answer questions and offer sample sniffs of the store’s strain selection. Cannabis City offers four strains of pot — OG's Pearl, Sweet Lafayette, OG's Kush and Copper Kush, which Andrew described as “nutty" — with different TCH levels. But pot isn’t the only progressive offering — Cannabis City employees are paid a $15 minimum wage, Andrew Powers said. There is also a wide selection of pipes and bongs available for purchase at Cannabis City; some glow in the dark.

Powers said he hasn’t tried the pot that’s on shelves yet, but plans to soon so he can “be a better salesman.” He wants to try the OG's Pearl first, because “it smells sweet, like smooth wine.”

The Powers twins, Andrew said, were huge supporters of I-502 and have been working toward this moment for a long time. “I see a lot of familiar faces,” Andrew said, nodding at others who have been long-time supporters of legal, recreational marijuana.

Surrounding businesses and pop-up vendors were also giving Cannabis City a symbolic high-five. People sold black ink drawings beside the line, while Seattle Cookie Counter — a food truck launched by a Kickstarter campaign — offered vegan ice cream treats.

“We’ve sold about 20 ice creams so far, not as many as we expected” said Chris Olson of Seattle Cookie Counter. “But we expect things to pick up once it gets hotter” — or perhaps when people start getting the munchies.

Manager of the Subway next-door Chris Rodriguez was the day’s hero. He calmly delivered drinks and subs to famished people in line, while being followed by a KING 5 cameraman.

At the epicenter of today’s microphones and notepads was Deb Greene, a 65-year-old Seattle native.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jul 8, 11 p.m. Inappropriate

You'd have to be pretty stoned to line up for pot at $27 a gram.

NotFan

Posted Wed, Jul 9, 7:59 a.m. Inappropriate

"reporters generally were given something akin to V.I.P. treatment. They entered the store before many people who had been waiting in line since the wee hours of the morning."

Apparently stoners don't know the difference between what the press was doing there and what the stoners were doing there.

Simon

Posted Wed, Jul 9, 10:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Colorado's debut of selling legal marijuana was done with a BANG--with more than 30 stores opening, most of them in the Denver area.

Washington's legal marijuana debut is more like a whimper, with only 5--count 'em, five!--stores opening, only 1 of which was located in the state's biggest city. (And, gee, by starting 7 months LATER than Colorado did, you'd think we'd be able to get our act together!)

From here on out direct comparisons will be easy to make between the systems our respective states have adopted--Washington's and Colorado's.

While a Washingtonian pot smoker myself, I voted against this lame attempt at legalization because it looked so obviously like it was designed to fail. The first clue to that was the initiative's prohibition against residents growing their own supplies--which is allowed under the Colorado law. The second clue was that the implementation of this law was put in the hands of the Washington State Liquor Control Board--an inept and easily corrupted appointive body which should have gone the way of the dinosaurs ages ago. The third clue was the '1000 foot' rule severely restricting where pot stores can be located and practically excluding them from densely populated urban areas.

Of course, our own law could be corrected--if only we had a governor and legislators with the guts and the will to make the necessary changes. But I've been so disappointed with this state's politicians over the last couple decades that I very much doubt that any thoughtful reform will be possible.

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