For years the only way to get marijuana was to grow it at home illegally or buy it on the black market. But today 205 million Americans live in a state where marijuana is legal for either recreational or medical use.
Kristen Hwang, The Desert Sun
ANCHORAGE — Marijuana store manager Will Ingram’s eyes light up when he thinks about thousands of cruise ship passengers pouring off shuttle buses a block from his newly opened shop.
With money to spend and a few hours to burn, Ingram, whose shop is on the main street of this Alaskan city’s tourist district, thinks visitors from the Lower 48 are primed to become his customers in one of the few states where any adult legally can buy pot.
After navigating the souvenir shops selling ivory carved by Inupiat natives and chuckling at the rabbit-fur bikinis that furriers are offering, those tourists can’t help but wander past Alaska Fireweed, where state-regulated cannabis sells for $22 a gram. The store used to sell snowboards to tourists visiting nearby Alyeska Resort until warm winters drove them away.
“We’ve turned it into a weed shop, and we still sell to the same clientele,” Ingram said.
► Black market: Marijuana smuggling persists despite legalization
► Consequences: What’s the big deal with legal pot? No one really knows yet
Among the first tourists to visit Alaska Fireweed as the tourist season kicked off May 1 were Texans Bill and Diane Goza. The smell of cannabis washed over them as a security guard made sure they were of age — both are 61 — and ushered them into the brightly lit store where glass-fronted displays highlighted marijuana pipes, pre-rolled joints and smokable marijuana flowers.
“I actually felt like I was doing something wrong coming in here,” Diane Goza said.
Her husband is less concerned. He pronounces himself fascinated that Alaska permits marijuana sales — “It will never happen in Texas” — and wonders if a little marijuana before bedtime might help him sleep or ease the pain from a hip replacement or fibromyalgia.
“When I was in high school, the places with the posters and the black lights, they would sell to you under the table,” Bill Goza said. “This isn’t like that. It’s very…