Washington State pot smokers light up to celebrate legalization of marijuana


Dustin, left, and Paul of Tacoma, Washington, both of which declined to give their last names, share a water pip underneath the Space Needle shortly after a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana took effect on December 6, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.


Stephen Brashear

Pot smokers of Washington State rejoiced as recreational marijuana became legal in a historic first for the United States.

Despite a federal ban on marijuana use remaining in place — and a provision of the new state law that forbids users from lighting up outside the privacy of their homes — more than 100 devoted smokers gathered under the Space Needle to celebrate Wednesday, the LA Times reported.

Amid blaring reggae music, they lit up joints at the stroke of midnight in honor of the new marijuana law, which makes it legal for people aged 21 and older to possess an ounce or less of pot.

The Associated Press quoted smoker Darby Hageman as saying:

"I feel like a kid in a candy store! It's all becoming real now!"

Pot parties were reported across the state as a new law came into force following a Nov. 6 referendum in which Washington joined Colorado in voting for the decriminalization and regulation of recreational pot use.

However, public use of marijuana — just like public consumption of alcohol — is punishable by a fine.

Despite the Seattle Police Department suggesting on its blotter that people "responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a Lord of the Rings marathon in the privacy of your own home," according to the Globe and Mail, officers took no action.

It said it would for the moment only issue verbal warnings, although in theory they could impose $50 fines for smoking marijuana on a street or public square.

The department also emailed its 1,300 officers, telling them not to write any citations for smoking pot in public until further notice, the LA Times wrote, quoting police department spokesman Jeff Kappel as saying:

"We had a city ordinance prior to this that said marijuana enforcement was our lowest enforcement priority."