Pot-smokers light up in Washington state

2012-12-07 09:43
Paul of Tacoma, who declined to give his last name smokes marijuana from a water pipe underneath the Space Needle shortly after a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana took effect in Seattle, Washington. (Stephen Brashear, Getty Images/AFP

Paul of Tacoma, who declined to give his last name smokes marijuana from a water pipe underneath the Space Needle shortly after a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana took effect in Seattle, Washington. (Stephen Brashear, Getty Images/AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - Pot smokers lit up in Washington state on Thursday as recreational marijuana became legal in a historic first for the United States, clouded by the fact that federal law still bans the practice.

Midnight pot parties were reported across the western US state as a new law came into force following a 6 November referendum to legalise private consumption of marijuana for recreational use.

Around 200 people gathered at midnight  outside Seattle's appropriately-named Space Needle, a futuristic tower that dominates the skyline, to light up and celebrate their newfound freedom.

"You can smoke and not feel like a criminal. It's really no different than having a beer or something. In fact, I think it's less dangerous," Calvin Lee told the local Kiro 7 television station.

The law made it legal for those over 21 to possess and use up to 28g of marijuana. A number of US states have already legalised pot for medicinal purposes, but Washington is the first allowing it purely for fun.

Colorado residents approved a similar law last month, on the same day President Barack Obama was re-elected, but its pot lovers will have to wait until 5 January to light up with impunity.

Marijwhatnow?

But even while Washington's marijuana fans partied, the limits of the new law were underlined: The Space Needle gathering was technically illegal, since the new law allows only private, not public, consumption of weed.

Officers took no action, and the Seattle Police Department said that for the moment it will only issue verbal warnings, even though in theory they could impose $50 fines on those smoking marijuana on a street or in a public square.

Police drew praise for a blog - which became an instant internet hit - taking a light-hearted approach to explaining exactly what is and isn't legal under the new law.

The "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in Seattle" includes a link to a Lord of the Rings video clip entitled The Finest Weed, showing wizard Gandalf blowing meditative smoke rings with Bilbo Baggins.

"In keeping with the spirit of [the new law], the department's going to give you a generous grace period to help you adjust to this brave, new, and maybe kinda stoned world we live in," wrote the police blogger.

"Does this mean you should flagrantly roll up a mega-spliff and light up in the middle of the street? No.

Ganja-preneurs


"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."

More broadly, the new Washington and Colorado laws run counter to US federal law, which still bans recreational use of marijuana across the country.

"Regardless of any changes in state law growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," noted the US Attorney's Office in Seattle.

Entrepreneurs are already eyeing the lucrative business opportunities provided by the advent of legal marijuana. Some have already dubbed them "ganja-preneurs".

"We're focused on Baby Boomers - basically wealthy Baby Boomers," said Jamen Shiveley, a former Microsoft executive who hopes to open as many as a couple of dozen pot shops.

"It's a $100bn industry in search of a brand. Never in the history of capitalism - forget America, in the world - has such a giant vacuum existed," he told the King5 television station.

The state's financial chiefs are already rubbing their hands at the prospect of 25% tax revenues levied on legally sold marijuana, money which previously stayed strictly in the underground economy.

Washington's neighbour Oregon also held a referendum on legalising recreational marijuana on 6 November, but its residents rejected the proposal by 55% to 45%.

Read more on:    us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Mobile Marketing Manager

Western Cape
Recruit Digital
R15 000 - R22 000 Per Month

Engineering Manager

Western Cape
Pro-Tech Recruitment
R850 000 - R1 100 000 Per Year

In bound Supervisor

Western Cape
Peoplefinder Career Placements

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is hard to keep some sort of balance when the natural rhythm has flown out the window. The best thing to do is try not to keep...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.