Washington pot shop customers cheer first legal sale

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Washington pot shop customers cheer first legal sale
Clerk Havilah Nokes arranges packets of marijuana for sale at Cannabis City on the first day of legal recreational pot sales Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Cale Holdsworth, of Abeline, Kan., holds up his purchase after being the first in line to buy legal recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Holdsworth had been in line since 4:00 a.m. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Clerk Havilah Nokes arranges packets of marijuana for sale as a customer peers in at the display at Cannabis City on the first day of legal recreational pot sales Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Julian Rodriguez, right, of Everson, Wash., holds his two-gram packet of recreational marijuana outside Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales. At left is Tom Beckley, the owner of the store. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Bob Leeds, owner of Sea of Green Farms, pours packets of recreational marijuana into boxes, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle, for delivery to a store in Bellingham, Wash. It was the first delivery for the company since retail licenses were issued by the state on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rules for acceptable identification for customers buying legal recreational marijuana are posted by a cash register at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. on the first day of legal pot sales. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop turns around to mug for a photo after putting up lines of police tape on the front of his shop to cut later for the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A customer, who declined to give his name, sniffs a strain of recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., during the first half-hour of legal sales in the states. Customers cannot be given samples, but are allowed to use "sniff jars" to help make their purchasing decisions. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop puts up lines of police tape on the front of his shop to cut later for the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Lathrop is planning on opening for sales at noon. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop puts up lines of "police" tape on the front of his shop to cut later for the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal in the state, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop, right, playfully wraps up first-in-line customer Deb Greene in "police" tape as Jeremy Cooper looks on before the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note, as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Julian Rodriguez, of Everson, Wash., holds his two-gram packet of recreational marijuana outside Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The price of two grams of a strain of marijuana named "Sweet Lafayette," is displayed at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales of recreational marijuana in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A man waiting in line to buy recreational marijuana displays his pot-leaf tattoo oustside of Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop, right, reaches to embrace Easton Richmond, left, and Wendy Cook after they helped him put up lines of "police" tape on the front of his shop to cut later for the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
First-in-line customer Deb Greene waits at Cannabis City for the opening on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note as eager customers who lined up outside stores made their purchases and savored the moment. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Customers look at a glass case containing pipes and information on recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
John Evich, right, an investor in the Top Shelf Cannabis store, talks to customers waiting in line outside the store, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Kevin Nelson, of Bellingham, Wash., holds a sign that reads "Drug War Ends Here," outside Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. on the first day of legal pot sales in the state. Nelson says he is a long-time activist opposing drug laws, particularly those targeting marijuana users, and he he feels the legalization of marijuana will lead to less crowded jails and be less of a burden on the court system. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Cale Holdsworth, of Abeline, Kan., holds up his purchase after being the first in line to buy legal recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Holdsworth had been in line since 4:00 a.m. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Customers on the left and sales clerks on the right pass "sniff jars" back and forth on a glass countertop as they discuss different strains of recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sam Pyle, left, inspects a "sniff jar" containing a sample of recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Jeremy Hunter, right, an employee at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Wash., talks about different strains of marijuana as he works behind a case displaying glass pipes, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Melissa McKelvey, left, urges driver Terry Martin, blocking traffic, to move along from in front of Cannabis City, on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal in the state Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. The shop is the first and, initially, only store in Seattle to legally sell pot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A customer pays for his recreational marijuana purchase at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., on the first day of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Brian Travino, a student at Western Washington University wears a Washington state flag, as he waits with other customers to purchase recreational marijuana at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash., in the first half-hour of legal sales in the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop, right, talks with Deb Greene, who is first in line at the store on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal in the state Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. At left is security guard Dan Weber. The shop is the first and, initially, only store in Seattle to legally sell pot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Terry Martin displays a tee shirt he's selling celebrating legal marijuana in front of Cannabis City, as he waits with others on the first day that sales of recreational pot is legal in the state Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle. The symbols translate that under one ounce of pot and over 21-years of age means that it's legal. The shop is the first and, initially, only store in Seattle to legally sell pot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Cale Holdsworth, of Abeline, Kan., pays for his purchase of recreational marijuana from sales clerk Ariane Brust, right, after being the first in line at Top Shelf Cannabis, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash. Holdsworth had been in line since 4:00 a.m. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Phil Tobias, director of Sea of Green Farms, front, drives a delivery van in Seattle with farm owner Bob Leeds, as they set out on their first delivery of recreational marijuana to a store in Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. It was the first delivery for the company since retail licenses were issued by the state on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Phil Tobias, director of Sea of Green Farms, carries boxes of recreational marijuana to a van, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle, for delivery to a store in Bellingham, Wash. It was the first delivery for the company since retail licenses were issued by the state on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
CORRECTS NAME TO GREENE Cannabis City owner James Lathrop, right, walks past first-in-line customer Deb Greene at the recreational marijuana store Monday, July 7, 2014, in Seattle. The store will be the first and, initially, only store in Seattle to legally sell recreational pot when sales begin Tuesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Bob Leeds, owner of Sea of Green Farms, right, has a laugh with farm director Phil Tobias, as they load packets of recreational marijuana into boxes, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Seattle, for delivery to a store in Bellingham, Wash. It was the first delivery for the company since retail licenses were issued by the state on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A sign noting the Washington state law that prohibits opening packages that contain marijuana or marijuana-infused products in public rests on a glass case displaying bongs for sale, Monday, July 7, 2014, at the recreational marijuana store Cannabis City in Seattle. The store will be the first and only store in Seattle to initially sell recreational marijuana when legal sales begin on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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By GENE JOHNSON

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) -- Cale Holdsworth strode to the register at Top Shelf Cannabis after inspecting and sniffing a glass jar filled with marijuana and said: "I'll take two grams."

Holdsworth paid $26.50 and held up the brown bag containing his pot as other customers applauded the store's first transaction as Washington on Tuesday became the second state to allow people to buy marijuana legally in the U.S. without a doctor's note.

"This is a great moment," said the 29-year-old from Abilene, Kansas, as a swarm of reporters and television cameras recorded the moment. State law allows both Washington residents and people from out of state to purchase a limited amount of pot.

People began buying marijuana at 8 a.m. at Top Shelf Cannabis, one of two Bellingham stores that started selling the drug as soon as it was allowed under state regulations. Before it opened, several dozen people lined up outside the shop in this liberal college town of about 80,000 north of Seattle.

Holdsworth, wearing salmon-colored shorts and a brown sweatshirt jacket over a tie-dyed T-shirt, was first in line, along with his girlfriend, Sarah Gorton, and her younger brother. They showed up at 4 a.m.

Gorton said the trio was in Bellingham for her grandfather's 84th birthday.

"It's just a happy coincidence and an opportunity we're not going to have for a long time," said Gorton, a 24-year-old with dreadlocks and homemade jewelry. "I'm really thrilled to be a part of something that I never thought would happen."

The start of legal pot sales in Washington marks a major step that's been 20 months in the making.

Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21, and to create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot. Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Washington issued its first 24 retail licenses Monday. An Associated Press survey of the licensees showed only about six planned to open Tuesday: two in Bellingham, one in Seattle, one in Spokane, one in Prosser and one in Kelso. Some were set to open later this week or next, while others said it could be a month or more before they could acquire marijuana to sell.

It's been a bumpy ride in Washington, with product shortages expected as growers and sellers scrambled to prepare. Pot prices were expected to be higher than what people pay at the state's unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries.

That was largely due to the short supply of legally produced pot in the state. Although more than 2,600 people applied to become licensed growers, fewer than 100 have been approved - and only about a dozen were ready to harvest by early this month.

Colorado already had a regulated medical marijuana system, making for a smoother transition when it allowed those dispensaries to start selling to recreational pot shops Jan. 1.

Washington's medical system is unregulated, so officials here were starting from scratch as they immersed themselves in the pot world and tried to come up with regulations that made sense for the industry and the public.

The rules include protocols for testing marijuana and requirements for child-resistant packaging. Officials also had to determine things like how much criminal history was too much to get a license, and what types of security systems pot shops and growers should have.

Washington law allows the sale of up to an ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of pot-infused solids, 72 ounces of pot-infused liquids or 7 grams of concentrated marijuana, like hashish, to adults over 21.

Brian Kost, a 45-year-old Bellingham man, was among the first in line at Top Shelf Cannabis, in an industrial area off Interstate 5. He said he hadn't smoked marijuana in 17 years because he didn't like the hassle of trying to find it on the illegal market.

"With the chance to buy it legally, I just couldn't pass it up," Kost said. "I never thought I'd see the day."

Gorton said she, her brother and boyfriend planned to head back to their relatives' house and sample their purchase.

"We're probably going to break open a bottle of wine, sit on the porch and enjoy this," she said.

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