Pot pilgrims made the trek across the river from Portland today for the first sale of legal recreational marijuana in Vancouver, Washington. A cautious celebration began with the opening of the first legal businesses selling legalized weed in the Portland area. As Washington shifts to allowing recreational marijuana consumption, our closest neighbor to the north shifts from being derided as "Vantucky" to suddenly a.ka. "Vansterdam".
Police and other officials are nervous as Prohibition on legal pot eases. Lighted signs were put up on all freeways reminding drivers that taking to the road while under the influence of marijuana is as much a DUI offense as drinking. It is also illegal to transport marijuana back across the river into Portland. According to police officers on the scene, it is also illegal to share it, sell it or distribute it in any form outside of the legal stores.
Lines formed early at both Main Street Marijuana opened its doors at 11am with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Vancouver mayor Tim Leavitt. Customers eagerly shelled out over $30 for two gram bag, much higher than street prices for illegal equivalents. With high prices and short supply, legalized marijuana in Washington is turning out to be less ecstatic than the big events in Colorado. With less sales, the tax benefits to the state may also be limited.
The next store to open in Vancouver is New Vansterdam, expected to open Friday, July 11. However, don't expect a Starbucks wave any time soon because very few retail licenses have been approved for the entire state of Washington. With over 2000 applications from marijuana growers, there are less than 200 legal licenses for the entire state.