A crowd of approximately 150 gathered at the base of the iconic Seattle Space Needle to openly smoke marijuana at 12:00 this morning. The revelers had come to celebrate the moment marijuana possession became legal in Washington State, thanks to last month's passage of Initiative 502.
Not one police officer (in uniform) was to be seen, but news media were well represented. Cameras from KOMO & KING local news as well as national reporters from CNN, FOX, CBS and Canada's CBC were all in attendance, interviewing people and filming them lighting up joints and pipes in the chilly Seattle Center. I was there live-streaming for The Russ Belville Show and had the opportunity to talk to many of them. I also got to speak to many people in the crowd.
"I'm here from Oklahoma on business," said one middle-aged man, "and something like this would fill our county jail for a while." A set of three young women from California noted the irony that Washington has legal weed and nowhere to buy it and California has just the opposite. An older gentleman from Seattle talked about finally wearing his favorite marijuana hat in public without feeling like he was promoting crime. A group of locals who'd been waiting since 10:30pm said they braved the cold just to celebrate freedom with others. A young man with neck tattoos acting very paranoid was the only unpleasant part of the crowd, and even he was a decent freestyle rapper.
Soon a van had shown up with some speakers to pump out some music. We counted down from five minutes, from one minute, 10, 9, 8... and suddenly marijuana possession was legal. A cheer arose from the crowd, followed by a hush, followed by a very large cloud of marijuana smoke and cold breath. The first tune to play as people enjoyed their first legal toke was "Smoke 2 Joints" by Sublime. Most notably, not a bit of the sky fell, the earth continued to rotate on its axis, and Seattle went on with its business completely unconcerned with a bunch of people openly smoking pot.
As it should be. Here are some video highlights from the night (apologies for the audio issues).