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'Free the weed'; scenes from the first legal Washington pot sales

Dale Brown, left, and John Hultberg protest the opening of Altitude, a marijuana store as customers wait for the shop to open in Prosser, Wash., Tuesday, July 8, 2014. It was the first day marijuana could be sold legally in Washington state. Crawford, of Benton City, was purchasing the marijuana for recreational use. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, Gordon King)

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Dale Brown, left, and John Hultberg protest the opening of Altitude, a marijuana store as customers wait for the shop to open in Prosser, Wash., Tuesday, July 8, 2014. It was the first day marijuana could be sold legally in Washington state. Crawford, of Benton City, was purchasing the marijuana for recreational use. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, Gordon King)

As employees worked frantically to prepare the shelves and assess their inventory at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Washington, 22-year-old Zoe Wainwright was among the dozens in line early Tuesday waiting for legal marijuana sales to begin.

The Bellingham man said he's an occasional pot user, but primarily went to take pictures of the scene for his 64-year-old father, who was out of town.

"He's been waiting for this a long time," Wainwright said. "He grew up in the '60s and '70s."

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About an hour after sales began at Top Shelf, John Evich, an investor in the store, came out to tell customers that things were still going a little slowly because staff had to count packages of pot that were late in arriving Tuesday morning. He urged folks to be patient.

Tom Beckley, the owner, said Tuesday's sales were the culmination of months of work following the 2012 passage by voters of measures legalizing recreational pot in Washington and Colorado.

"I think it's incredible that people are finally getting their way on their vote," Beckley said. "It's nice to see everybody out here on a positive and happy manner."

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Cale Holdsworth, a 29-year-old from Abilene, Kansas, was the first customer to buy pot at Top Shelf Cannabis when it opened at 8 a.m.

Holdsworth, who manages a parts department at an RV dealership in Kansas, says he uses the drug to stimulate his appetite and help him sleep, and because he likes it.

"It just makes you feel good, and there is nothing wrong with that," he said.

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In Seattle, the city's first pot shop welcomed customers in the SoDo neighbourhood at noon. Dozens of media waited alongside dozens of customers for the doors of Cannabis City to open.

Store owner James Lathrop, holding a large scissors to cut the ribbon for the official opening, said it was time to "free the weed."

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who supported efforts to legalize the drug, was on hand to watch the scene.

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