US states that have decriminalised marijuana and started operating legal shops
It’s been two years since the first retail shops opened on Washington’s Capitol Hill and customers rush to purchase the latest strain.
The city allows marijuana possession, delivery and gifting, but the prohibition remains on public consumption of the plant.
The cannabis epidemic: the era of legal highs is over Read more
The number of business licences issued is tiny compared with those given to bars and restaurants, but so far, the venture has gone swimmingly in a city whose early adopters have allowed for public celebration of the new medical cannabis industry.
Shopper Melinda Silva, 51, likes the convenience of buying her marijuana legally. “It’s not something that belongs on the street,” she says, adding that, in her regular local shopping centre, cannabis “is not allowed anywhere near you”.
The public reaction to shops and public consumption has been mixed: the sight of stand-up, medical-grade cannabis has been symbolically jarring for some city residents, but Washington state police have generally been tolerant. Some activists have organised spin-offs for cash-strapped cities where local shops have had trouble getting off the ground.
No shoppers sit in the establishment on Saturday. But a dozen people chill out at a table outside the shop on the corner. One of them is Kate Knott, 42, who stopped by for a note she’d passed the gram that morning.
The seller, a man in a grey polo, complains about the unusually warm weekend; the would-be buyer also says she forgot to open a bag, and is disappointed. But Knott is content to browse and consult her notes, leaving shortly after it closes.
Pot dispensary, Taiso. Photograph: Oliver Laughland for the Guardian
• This article was amended on 27 August 2018 to clarify that cannabis possession, delivery and gifting are legal in Washington, but the state maintains the ban on public consumption.