Hundreds line up for legal pot sales in Washington

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Hundreds line up for legal pot sales in Washington
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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SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington's slow rollout of its legal marijuana market spreads to more cities Wednesday, one day after big crowds lined up outside the state's first licensed pot shops.

Adam Markus, the owner of Station 420 in Union Gap, said difficulties with a software system for tracking marijuana prevented his shop from opening on the first day stores could open under state rules. But he plans to open at 1 p.m. Wednesday - and after seeing how smoothly things went Tuesday, he's relieved.

"When you have absolutely everything invested in something - let's just say I was really nervous until I saw the lines this morning," he said.

Twenty months after voters legalized recreational cannabis for adults over 21, Washington state's first few licensed pot shops opened for business Tuesday, catering to hundreds of customers who were thrilled to be part of the historic moment. The state eventually plans to have more than 300 shops operating.

The pot being sold at four stores in Seattle, Bellingham, Prosser and Spokane was regulated, tested for impurities, heavily taxed and in short supply - such short supply that several other shops couldn't open because they had nothing to sell.

RELATED: Customers cheer first legal sale

Pete Holmes, Seattle's elected city attorney and a main backer of the state's recreational marijuana law, said he wanted to be one of the first customers to demonstrate there are alternatives to the nation's failed drug war.

"This is a tectonic shift in public policy," he said. "You have to honor it. This is real. This is legal. This is a wonderful place to purchase marijuana where it's out of the shadows."

Dressed in a pinstripe suit, Holmes stood inside Seattle's first and, for now, only licensed pot shop, Cannabis City, south of downtown. The shop was sweltering. He fanned himself with a state-produced pamphlet titled "Marijuana Use in Washington State: An Adult Consumer's Guide."

Holmes noted it had been quite some time since he smoked pot. He paraphrased a line from the "South Park" cartoon series: "Remember, children, there's a time and place for everything. That place is college."

After getting a recommendation on what strain to buy, he spent $80 on 4 grams, including $20.57 in taxes.

Washington is the second state to allow marijuana sales without a doctor's note. Voters in Colorado also legalized pot in 2012, and sales began there Jan. 1.

Washington's Liquor Control Board began working right away to develop rules governing just about every aspect of the industry, from what fertilizers can be used to how extracts are produced.

Related: Washington issues first pot shop license

But the board has been overwhelmed: Nearly 7,000 people applied to grow, process or sell pot, and those licenses are being reviewed glacially by the board's 18 investigators.

Fewer than 100 growers have been approved, and only about a dozen were ready to harvest in time for the market's launch. As for the stores, most first had to get lucky in state-run lotteries for 300-plus retail licenses being issued. Then they had to strike deals to buy product from the growers - in many cases at exorbitant prices.

Much of the marijuana being sold Tuesday cost at least twice the $10 to $12 per gram offered by the state's unregulated medical dispensaries.

In Seattle, hundreds of people waited in the warm sunshine outside for Cannabis City to open at noon. Store owner James Lathrop declared it time to "free the weed" and cut the ribbon - actually yellow police tape strung across the shop's door.

His first customer, 65-year-old retiree Deb Greene, hugged and thanked Alison Holcomb, the author of Washington's marijuana law, before placing her order for 8 grams, totaling $160 with tax. Greene said she got excited and bought twice as much as she intended to.

Holcomb bought some too.

The hype surrounding the pot shop openings was unwelcome in some quarters.

Related: The 'weed fairy' visits Seattle

Derek Franklin, head of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, said it can "normalize" marijuana use for children. He lamented that the state only recently scraped together some money for a digital and radio advertising campaign to urge parents to talk to their children about marijuana.

"This kind of messaging, not only is it too late, but it's not nearly in-depth enough," he said. "If we're the big marijuana social experiment, well, there's no experiment I'm aware of that you go into without informed consent."

Bellingham's first store, Top Shelf Cannabis, made more than 400 transactions by late afternoon. It opened at 8 a.m., when Cale Holdsworth strode to the counter and bought 2 grams for $26.50.

Holdsworth was in town with his girlfriend, Sarah Gorton, and her younger brother for her grandfather's birthday.

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

The trio planned to head back to their relatives' house and sample the 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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