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February 20th, 2013 WW Staff | Featured Stories
 

An oral history of the first 76 days of legalized marijuana in Vancouver, Wash.

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“It’s not like the way you think. You’d think everyone would be out smoking and celebrating and having big parties in the street. It’s not like that at all.” —John, recreational marijuana user


“I’ve heard about that kind of crazy stuff going on up in Seattle: people just going out smoking a joint to celebrate. King County is much more liberal than Clark County, though. They have that big festival up there and everything, people just smoking in the park.” —Mike Peterson, medical-marijuana patient


“There were a few instances of people smoking marijuana on the sidewalk or street corners on election night and a few days after. But the reality is, most people are pretty private with their marijuana use, so even the most loyal consumers of recreational marijuana were just going to smoke at home with friends.” —Marcus Griffith, journalist for The Vancouver Vector


“The thing I see most is people not afraid to admit they toke. I’m realizing a lot more people smoke than I originally thought.” —Kody Baker, owner of Brewed coffee shop


“I’m aware of numerous people who are fielding questions to the city of Vancouver for getting business licenses for marijuana products. I know the state’s been bombarded with inquiries.” —Marcus Griffith


“It’s a lot more open now. Vancouver is kind of a small town. Everybody talks, so you never know who’s listening and if they have an opinion on it, as far as hiring standards or whatever. But it’s a lot more out in the open now. There was one old guy who was talking about how great the pot is now, compared to the ’60s—different colors, different strains. He was impressed.” —Clerk at Bad Monkey Bikes, Board & Skate shop


“There are people that jaywalk as officers drive by. And while that’s an infraction, the officer determines whether they’re going to turn around or whether they have other things they’re doing. I don’t know of any agency that’s out looking for people smoking marijuana in public, based on the plethora of other things that they could spend their attention on. We’re busy enough.” —Commander Dave King, Vancouver Police Department


“The bar I go into, the bartender says people come in and ask, ‘Hey, can I go light up in your patio smoking section?’ They’re like, ‘No, of course not!’ You can’t just sit down to your picnic in the park and then take a couple of hits.” —Mike Peterson


“Everybody who came in stoned before are the same people coming in stoned now. I’m not smelling it any more than I did before. People are walking around the block more than they used to. We have this thing, a ‘We’ll Be Back’ business card. They’re getting used more.” —Barbara Webb, bartender at Shanahan’s Pub & Grill


“As far as the verbiage goes, yeah, that’s all changed. It used to be someone used the word ‘bong’ and we said, ‘Hey, sir, it’s a water pipe, and don’t use that word again or I’m going to have to ask you to leave.’ I actually had to cancel a sale once because the guy didn’t get it. And that’s all over now. People can come in and call it a bong and say, ‘I’ve got some great bud at home and I wanna smoke it!’ And we can say, ‘Yeah, you want this water pipe right here!’” —Jeff Gauthier, clerk at Smokin’ Js


“People are still growing a lot of ‘tomatoes.’ Our wholesalers are very strict in how we can talk to people, and it’s still a Schedule 1 drug federally. So if someone comes in and says, ‘I want to grow some pot,’ it’s like, ‘Sorry, dude, I can’t help you do that because federally it’s still illegal and we don’t know if there’s [a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] van down the street listening or whatever.’ And some people don’t understand that and get kind of pissy. But it’s still tomatoes until we see things change federally or we get word from the people we get supplies from.” —Trevor Scott, manager of Indoor Garden Supply


“I think that an entrepreneur would probably be well-advised to open a music venue leaning toward pot smokers in Vancouver.” —Arthur Steinhorn, drummer, Garcia Birthday Band


“On average, a gram of marijuana in Vancouver ranges between $8 to $12, with some fluctuation. Under the new taxes the state will charge, that’s going to rise up to anywhere between $15 to $30 a gram. We’re going to be telling people, as a state, ‘Hey, stop doing what you’ve been doing for $10 a gram, and now start doing it for $30 a gram.’ The black market that’ll emerge will be like the tobacco market, where it’s about avoiding taxes and fees rather than criminal charges.” —Marcus Griffith


“There are just dozens and dozens and dozens of growers who’ve been growing for 20 and 30 and 40 years coming out for these 502 meetings to talk about what the rules should look like. These are guys who’ve never come out before publicly [and said] that they grow. This guy told me, ‘I’ve been hiding since 1966.’” —Philip Dawdy, spokesman for the Washington Cannabis Association


Compiled by Matthew Singer, Enid Spitz, Matthew Korfhage and Martin Cizmar. 

 
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