A week after recreational sales became legal in Washington State, I happened to be in the Seattle area and decided to go in for some first-hand knowledge. This is my plan, I’m going to visit a popular dispensary, where (according to the internet) recreational pot is sold, and exercise my new ‘right’ to purchase marijuana legally in the US. I started with an internet search: <recreational+marijuana+washington+state>
This brought up a result for Leafly dot com. According to this site, there are two places in Washington State where I might purchase marijuana, legally, specifically for recreational use.
I also checked Washington State’s information site. I don’t have to be a resident of Washington State, I just need a legal U.S. ID. Okay, I decide this is enough for me to take the train 30 miles into town and check it out.
Cannabis City was the most well-known location for recreational sales, in fact it turns out, at the moment they are the only recreational storefront. Unfortunately the day they opened (Tuesday July 8th) they quickly sold out of the two strains they were carrying. On the day of my visit 6 days after opening, they are still out of stock and temporarily closed.
Leafly dot com listed a second resource, this one with plenty of good reviews. Belltown CG & PDA Lounge, only a half mile from the train station. According to Leafly, PDA Lounge is open for recreational sales. On their website they have plenty of edibles, topicals, smokables and dabs, along with all the accessories, papers, glass, vapes… I called, again a voice message is all that greeted me. Hours of operation are open until midnight. I decided to check it out.
Now, mind you I’m not really highly motivated to get high. For me, this is a historic moment. It’s the Summer of 2014 and weed is legal all along the Western Coast of the United States from Los Angeles to Seattle; medicinally and recreationally, individuals are able to legally consume this plant. For myself, having not been to a doctor to get ‘carded’, recreation is the current most available outlet. I want to get in line for this. I want to exercise my American liberty in this way. I want to see how legal recreational pot sales work in Seattle and I’m about to receive some first-hand education.
Approaching the storefront in Seattle, I imagined I would at least be able to purchase a caramel or maybe a joint and legally, privately, for the first time in my life, enjoy a legal marijuana high.
I walked in, walked to the counter and was greeted by Otis. “Hi” I say “I’m just visiting the area and very interested in the new legalization of recreational pot. I understand from a little research on-line that you’re one of two places where I might purchase some edibles and I’m hoping you can share more information with me.”
The clerk rolls his eyes and sighs. “We are medicinal only. I don’t know what the online resources are telling you, but they are wrong. Recreational pot in Seattle is a big mess. I’m sorry but I can’t sell anything to you.”
Obviously, this is a bummer. I ask a few more questions.
“Where can I purchase marijuana for recreational use?”
“The one storefront where recreational pot is being sold is Cannabis City, they carried only two smokable strands and some glass pipes. Neither strand is very high quality (especially in comparison with medical strands). Also, the store, as I’m aware, is temporarily closed.”
My next question, “What’s your view on recreational marijuana in Seattle?”
Otis tells me that in general from conversations he has had, no collective, group or business currently dispensing marijuana for medicinal purposes is in support of the new regulations around sales of pot for recreational use. Beyond this, the general consensus according to this store employee is that recreational regulations are specifically and only to benefit the corporatization of marijuana sales in Washington State (think cartons of pot cigarettes). According to this employee, recreational pot sales in Washington State are designed for corporate profit. They are seen in Seattle as a bane to the current medicinal market that will hurt small locally owned businesses, drive up prices, decrease access to those medically in need and lower the quality of pot available to consumers. Recreational pot is seen as a big step backwards in marijuana legalization.
Otis then referred me to a delivery service, and suggested I try them to see if perhaps they can home delivery recreational marijuana joints or edibles. I make note of this, but where I’m staying is way outside of Seattle, about 30 miles South. I’m doubtful they will deliver and I’m also leaving the next morning.
I thank Otis and leave, informed but very sober.
On my way out I ask if I can take a photo. Everyone agrees, but no one poses.
Of course, it’s still not legal to smoke or consume marijuana in Washington State in a public settings – just like you can’t openly drink a beer or swig off your bottle of whiskey in the park or on the bus. It’s also true that you can receive a d.u.i. for driving while high. Legal consumption, recreational or otherwise, must be within the State of Washington and within a private setting (your home or out of public view). It’s also not legal to carry marijuana purchased in the State of Washington outside of the state. It is not legal to buy from an unauthorized person or business.
Out of curiosity, I call the delivery service. Here’s the scoop. They can deliver and are authorized for recreational sales. You must be 21 or over. You must have cash, exact change is required. Delivery is restricted to the Downtown Seattle area.
As I had been staying in Washington State, but outside the delivery area and would be traveling out of State the next morning, I realized sadly that my quest as an American searching for the experience of a legal marijuana high in the land of the free would not be realized on this trip.
However, with the news today that marijuana is now approaching legalization with new decriminalization in the nation’s capital, I feel the time is coming.
Throughout this whole experience, there was a sub-text narrative in the back of my mind. I questioned the role of federal law and federal law enforcement in this whole scenario. While I was, I felt, clear enough on the Washington State law — no smoking in a public setting, no crossing State lines, must have a legal ID and be over the age of 21 — there had been very little information available regarding federal involvement or stance on Washington State’s recreational legalization. I was relying on previous news stories and rumors, that marijuana is a low priority for federal law enforcement in states where it has been legalized. I believe that in general, I’m not at risk for much as long as I stay in the bounds of the state’s law. But I’m not really sure of this.
For all I know, the two guys seated in the lounge area of this dispensary were DEA agents. For all I know, had I purchased pot on that day, I might have faced federal charges and possibly an arrest. You might say this is being paranoid, but you can’t blame it on the pot, not on this day.
Cognitive liberty means claiming freedom of thought, freedom of ideas. I’m an advocate for being the free source. I believe in sharing ideas and creative input, because I believe the source of inspiration is limitless and I celebrate the creative manifestations of our source material. I believe marijuana fuels creative thought and inspiration.
My experience with marijuana is that certain strands help me to explore a sense of inspiration where my thoughts flow more freely. I feel my ability to communicate clearly and concisely opens up. Within this space, I find my self-expression opens into a creative flow. I create more art. I write freely, sometimes going into deeply meditative realms where feelings surface into contemplative awareness. I don’t smoke pot to check out, I smoke to check-in, to go deep and get real.
I support responsible individuals being able to legally, for purposes of their own, purchase, grow and consume marijuana. I’m willing to go to the dispensaries where this is said to be legal and see what happens, because I’m ready to welcome the day when marijuana is not such a big deal. I’m looking forward to when it’s legal for those who choose to consume marijuana, for whatever reason. I appreciate the medicinal stance, as one where individuals can seek professional input on what type or strand and method of consumption might work best for their needs. Much of the medicine is in knowing the plant. I encourage everyone to read, learn and self-educate so as to know more about where this plant is coming from and why the cannabinoids and THC have receptors in our brains. The nature of the plant in relation to ourselves is good to contemplate.
I doubt that on that day there was any interest, other than my own, in my excursion to the dispensary. I had imagined posting this article with a photo of myself enjoying the legal consumption of this plant, enjoying an act of individual liberty in America. It’s been pointed out to me that I can smoke pot in Canada, legally. It’s just not the same. I will post that picture someday, hopefully some day soon. For now, I’ll wait, watch and learn along with the rest of America as we continue to understand what it means to be free.
Teaser image by Hammerin’ Man, courtesy of Creative Commons license.