BELLINGHAM - The excitement of buying pot in a store hadn't lost its luster as Bellingham's second marijuana store opened to a line of about 40 people Thursday, July 10.
With a wink to pot culture, 2020 Solutions opened its doors just before 4:20 p.m., and the line of people waiting in the sun steadily grew.
Bellingham resident Patrick Kalles, 45, was first in line to get into the store, located at 2018 Iron St. Kalles had been a medical marijuana patient, but his card had expired and he couldn't afford to get it renewed.
After making his purchase, Kalles said he felt grateful to be able to go into a store and buy marijuana, which he uses to help him sleep and to stimulate his appetite so he can take his prescriptions.
"If feels great. It feels wonderful. I feel almost free," he said. "I don't have to rely on the old system, the old way of doing it."
2020 had planned to open at 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 8, the first day of legal pot sales in Washington state, but its opening was delayed when its suppliers couldn't enter their pot into the state's computerized traceability system.
Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis was the area's first pot store to open, and it made the first legal sale of recreational marijuana in the state Tuesday morning.
Even with the delay, 2020 Solutions, owned by Whatcom County residents Aubree and Troy Lozano, was among the first pot stores to open in Washington state.
Aaron Nelson, 2020's senior vice president of operations, described the tech issues as little bumps in the road.
"We're still early in this business," he said after the store opened Thursday. "We're in it for the long term. We're not in it for the short term. We wanted to wait and do it right."
Nelson estimated about 75 customers came through the store in its first half hour, with about seven or eight people allowed in at a time to minimize crowding. The store carries three strains of marijuana - Cinex, Godzilla and New Kush - sold in 3.5-gram packages for $95. There were also Blewetts - filtered, pre-rolled cannabis - available for $42 for a package of three.
The store opened with 859 packs of Blewetts and several pounds of dried marijuana, so Nelson wasn't concerned about insufficient supply.
"Luckily we have plenty of product for everybody," he said.
Stanwood resident Candice Gleason, 25, can't smoke because she'll be teaching abroad soon, and she doesn't want to fail any drug tests she may have to take. She did buy pot for her step-mom, though.
"I get the chance to buy a little piece of history," she said.
"It feels weird," she added. "You can just buy it and you don't have to worry about getting into any legal issues. You don't have to worry about sketchy third-person dealers."
Patrick Lenihan, 50, said he hasn't bought pot in 30 years - he'd partake occasionally at parties or concerts when the opportunity arose - but he picked up a pack of Blewetts on Thursday. He planned on sharing them with an elderly relative who wants to try marijuana.
"I never though this day would arrive," he said of legalization.
The marijuana shopping experience was good, he said. He felt safe.
"What I like is, you don't have to deal with the criminal element," he said. "That's a big relief."
Sunnyland resident Theodore Wheeland, 27, said he supported legalizing marijuana for social justice reasons, namely the disproportionate number of black men who have been jailed for marijuana charges. He was excited about the opening of pot stores statewide but also said it was a baby step.
"We have so much further to go," he said. "And we can't kid ourselves that the injustices of the war on drugs are over when we legalize weed."
Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.