First Legal Weed in Washington Goes to Museum

Deb Greene, a 65-year-old grandmother and Seattle resident, bought the first legal cannabis in Washington when pot shops opened in July. Now, she’s giving it away.

Deb Greene SeattleGreene has donated some of the weed she bought to the Seattle Museum of History and Industry. The gift will commemorate July 8, the start of legal retail pot in the state.

She bought the pot at Cannabis City of Seattle, the first pot shot to open in Washington. The state has issued 24 retail licenses so far, out of more than 300 available to recreational weed stores.

Greene, who is retired from the insurance industry, spent the night of July 7 camped outside Cannabis City. She brought “a chair, sleeping bag, food, water and a 930-page book,” she said.

Once the store opened, Greene bought two bags of legal pot. The first bag she used herself; the second she kept so she could donate it to the museum. The shop’s owner, James Lathrop, signed that bag.

“And that will be saved forever,” Greene said. “You don’t use history.”

Washington voters legalized pot in 2012, and the first shops opened to booming business. But some quickly ran out of pot, with long delays before new product arrives.

That’s because the licensing process was rocky at best. State officials struggled to put legal weed into effect while facing the possibility that many consumers will stick with the black or medical markets because of the heavy taxes on recreational cannabis.

Legal weed is taxed at three points in the distribution process, with a 25 percent tax at each point. That adds a total of 44 percent to the average marijuana purchase, substantially boosting prices. Black market cannabis and medical cannabis are much cheaper on average.

Experts predict the situation will improve, especially once new stores start opening across the state. And a new crop should be arriving soon in the shops that ran out.

It’s unclear exactly what the museum will do with the marijuana gift, or how the pot will be preserved. Not to mention the kids on field trips who will try to steal the history-making weed.

As for Greene, she said she decided to get in line at Cannabis City mostly on a whim. She wanted to be a part of history, she said,

FIRST LEGAL WEED“It was the first thing I wanted to do when I retired,” she said. “I wanted to smoke a joint and not worry about drug testing.”

She was joined in line by George Vargas, 64, and Rafael Dias, 54, both substantially older than the stereotype of a pot smoker. Vargas, a grandfather, was the state’s second customer, while Dias was third.

They got their meals from a nearby food truck and brought pillows, sleeping bags, and beverages from home. Vargas, a retiree from Dallas, moved to Seattle in June after several months in Denver.

“Everything else is falling in place,” he said. “The weather, the weed, the food, and the women.”

About Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on, and