They gathered at the Space Needle, in downtown Tacoma and in cloudy living rooms across the state. Pot smokers, once the scourge of law enforcement and scare films such as "Reefer Madness" became legit Thursday in Washington State.
"It means I don't have to worry," said Marty Johnson of Seattle, who stood with friends near the Space Needle to celebrate the first legal pot day in state history. "We've waited. It took more time than it should have but now it's legal."
Well, almost. While the November passage of I-502 made personal use amounts of marijuana legal in the state, it didn't change federal law -- a fact the Western District U.S. Attorney's office was quick to point out.
"Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan wrote in a statement released Wednesday.
However, the Seattle Police Department Blotter had a decidedly more casual take on the new law:
"Does this mean you should flagrantly roll up a mega-spliff and light up in the middle of the street? No. If you’re smoking pot in public, officers will be giving helpful reminders to folks about the rules and regulations under I-502 (like not smoking pot in public)," the SPD Blotter posted on Dec. 5.
"But the police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a Lord of the Rings marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."
Even so, the state is trying to move ahead with additional specific regulations. And local entrepreneurs are following right behind. My Northwest reports that "potpreneurs" are springing up with cookbooks and classes for marijuana edibles.
But how to regulate the sales? The state is looking to pot industry experts for advice, according to the Associated Press. But officials still don't know exactly what to do in the short-term, KOMO news reports.
Currently, it's legal to possess it but not to grow or buy pot.
"We are in uncharted territory," Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, told KOMO.