Smokers rejoice, marijuana possession legal

Smokers rejoice, marijuana possession legal »Play Video
RICHLAND, WA - Clay Looney is still pinching himself about the good fortune for his business, a smoke shop in Richland. He's seen a lot more sales since Initiative-502 passed last month -- making it legal for adults to carry an ounce of pot.

"It's pretty incredible, I expected this to be a ways down the road so it was a surprise in November to see this happen," said the owner of the Rock and Roll It smoke shop, Clay Looney.

Looney sells what some might consider paraphernalia -- pipes -- bongs -- blunt wraps. None of this was illegal to sell before this day.
But you couldn't be caught with a pipe -- and the green stuff that goes inside it.

Looney was willing to open his books for us -- and show what sales have been like since the Initiative passed -- but even before it took effect. He says sales rose 27% in the last month -- and up by a third from pre-election months.

"To be honest, I was initially anti-I-502, but with a great deal of research I find it is a step in the right direction," said Looney.

Looney even threw a party to honor the law taking effect. He says the change has allowed many people to come out of the shadows.

"I'm just happy it's legal now and I don't have to hide behind a bush to do it," exclaimed one smoke shop patron, Petey Martinez.

Despite demonstrations across the state, local police see the legalization as a routine change. They've said from the start -- most people caught with pot were doing something much worse in order to be arrested.

"I'm not looking for this to be a significant problem, we are going to run in to a small percentage of the population who don't follow statutes and we'll take the appropriate action," said Richland PD Captain Mike Cobb.

While the Initiative passed statewide -- it was resoundingly struck down by voters in the Tri-Cities, but Looney is no less thrilled at the future.

"I think it is an exciting time to move forward with an issue that has been on the table for a very long time," said Looney.