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Pot gives Oregonians a reason to visit neighbor

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm •  Published: July 9, 2014

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Legal pot means Portlandia is going to get to know "The Couv" a little better.

Mayor Tim Leavitt cut a green ribbon outside Main Street Marijuana on Wednesday, opening the doors to the first recreational marijuana store in Vancouver. The city in southwest Washington is just a 10-mile drive from downtown Portland. Culturally, however, it is many miles apart, and Portlanders say they have little reason to cross the I-5 bridge to visit their suburban neighbors.

But Portlanders were represented among the hundreds of people who waited in line for the doors to open on the second day licensed, taxed and regulated marijuana was available in Washington state. A handful of stores in the state opened to long lines and cheers on Tuesday, including one in Seattle, and a few more were expected to open by Friday, including a second one in Vancouver.

John Evich, an investor in Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, said business remained solid Wednesday afternoon, with five to six customers in the shop at a time. He said he hoped his supply would last through the week.

The store openings came 20 months after voters in Washington and Colorado legalized recreational cannabis for adults over 21. Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1. Washington officials expect to eventually license more than 300 shops.

Outside Main Street Marijuana, appropriately located on Main Street, a software company turned its parking lot and a side road into a "Weed and Weenie" festival, with vendors selling hot dogs and drug paraphernalia while others distributed information about pot.

Person after person interviewed Wednesday said they were withstanding the lines and the July sun because they wanted to be part of an event they likened to the ending of Prohibition.

"I'm more relaxed purchasing this gram than I ever have been before," said Mark Edwards, 42, of Salem, Oregon, who arrived at 3:30 a.m. and, nearly eight hours later, was the first customer to enter the store. "And this is a chance to be part of history."

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