'High hopes' for legal pot sales in the 'Couv
VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Main Street in downtown Vancouver hadn't seen this many people on a Wednesday morning in who knows how long.
The attraction? Legal marijuana for sale for the first time in Clark County.
Hundreds of people lined up outside Main Street Marijuana for the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.
Washington voters made pot legal last November.
In Vancouver, the measure passed with a majority, but not a huge one.
So there are plenty of people who didn't want to see this.
Some are worried that legalized pot will make the crime rates go up.
Vancouver's Mayor Tim Leavitt, who has gotten some flak for taking part in the grand opening event, doesn't think so.
Leavitt hasn't seen any evidence that recreational pot smokers are involved in more crimes.
And he doesn't see any reason that having a pot store will make it any easier for underage users to get their hands on weed.
"Marijuana users are not an issue for law enforcement. We have more important, broader issues to be dealing with," Leavitt said.
Vancouver police will watch for illegal pot activity, such as smoking in public and driving under the influence.
Officers dealt with one man at the grand opening who was trying to give marijuana away for free. That's against the state rules. They made him stop.
The first customer through the door at Main Street was Mark Edwards. He drove up from Salem.
He said he's not taking it back across the river to Oregon.
"It's legal here. Why make it illegal by taking it back home with me? I'll smoke it here at a friend's house -- enjoy it legally for once in my life," he said.
That may give Edwards a special buzz that he didn't get before.
"Not chemically. But from knowing I don't have to look over my shoulder to see who may be watching, or who can smell it," he said.
One shopper wondered about the frosted windows on Main Street's storefront. You can't really see in or out of the store.
"It makes it look like they're hiding something," she said.
The business is all on the "up and up" of course, but the product, and the cash to buy it, adds up to a lot of money.
It would seem to be enticing to thieves, but store manager Chris Stipe isn't worried.
"We've got a good security system, we studied other pot stores, and this used to be a jewelry store. Diamonds. Marijuana. Not much difference."
Stipe was more than happy with the turnout.
So were other business owners along Main Street.
Carrie Winters owns Moe's Barbering and Styling.
"If there are safety issues then I'm sure the city will take measures to correct them. I'm confident that other business owners will get involved. This is a good community down here -- people know each other," said Winters.
She's more excited about seeing the crowds coming into downtown. Winters says she's been working hard to get her business to take off, and people coming from all over town and even from across the river can only add more word of mouth and more sales.
"This just means to me an opportunity for growth. As long as we keep it positive. I don't want to take sides on the issue. Just come down and see for yourself and make up your own mind," she said.