When Washington legalized recreational marijuana a few years ago, the enabling act had strict locational requirements setting minimum distances from churches, schools and the like. Most of the ones in Seattle are therefore in industrial areas, but a handful are allowed in areas like this. The effect of legalizing pot has brought it pretty much into the main stream. The stores I've visited are all clean, well lit, tastefully decorated, with helpful staff and stocked with a wide variety of professionally packaged products. The effect of “legitimizing” it has brought it out from the seedy underbelly of the world and made it quite normal. One no longer has to buy a dime Ziploc baggie of weed from a toothless unkempt guy next to a dumpster behind a Quik-E-Mart. It kinda takes the taboo feeling out of it.
Except here. This sketchy little weed store – no name or sign on it, just an “open” sign under a green fluorescent light – with security bars on it’s frosted windows, housed underneath some darkened un-occupied apartments, and two doors down from an “adult” business, harkens back to the old days of buying a once illegal substance. It just feels seedy and somewhat illicit, and in many ways, lonely and sad.
I found myself here the other night, sitting on Bandit, across the street from the weed store, eating a two-scoop bowl of Full-Tilt’s best (Thai Ice Tea and Cinnamon Toast Crunch). I was alone, but far from the only person on the street, even at 10:45 pm, just before the ice cream store closed. I had the smokers ducking out of the tavern down the block, and the vegan hippies stopping by the pizza place for a gluten free crust coconut milk cheese pie, not to mention the surprisingly numerous patrons of the weed store – most all of whom would fit the stereotype of someone who used to sell illicit MJ from similar darkened doorway, minus the green light and the “Open” sign. It was quiet on the street except for the occasional passing car and it's "thumpa thumpa" bass speakers, and in the distance from one of the second floor apartments came the sound of a woman perhaps imitating a cat in heat, I’m not sure, but she seemed to be enjoying whatever was going on.
This is life on the fringe of the city.