Yakima County’s First Recreational Marijuana Shop Finally Open
UNION GAP -- While several dozen customers sweated in the midday heat outside Union Gap's Station 420 on Wednesday, Adam Markus and about half a dozen workers were inside, sweating the details.
Markus' staff was getting ready to open the front doors of Yakima County's first legal recreational marijuana shop, and they wanted to make sure they got it right. Station 420 and Altitude, which opened earlier this week in Prosser, are the closest recreational pot shops to Yakima, where city officials have banned such businesses.
The two shops are among the first to open in Washington since the state's voters approved Initiative 520 -- which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana -- last year.
But making it legal and making it available to buyers are two different things.
"There's a lot of hoops you've gotta jump through," explained Markus' attorney, Alex Newhouse of Sunnyside.
Newhouse, an advocate of legalizing marijuana for the past four years, said his client has spent "a lot of money" to open Station 420.
In addition to the cost of the building, Newhouse said people opening marijuana shops need to consider numerous other complications, including working their way through expensive fees and inspections.
"This is not easy," Newhouse said. "The amount of regulations involved is just mind-boggling."
Another complication: late shipments. A behind-schedule delivery forced Markus to delay Wednesday's opening until around 2 p.m., hours later than he'd planned.
That didn't seem to bother any of the 50 or so people who waited patiently for the store to open, though -- and it probably didn't hurt that Markus had thought to set out free bottled water in a barrel full of ice.
"The idea," said an Ellensburg man in his 30s who declined to give his name because he feared retribution by his employer, "is support your local businesses."
Others in line said they hope buying marijuana legally will eventually cut profits for illegal sellers and reduce crime.
Many talked of being part of history.
One white-haired Yakima resident in a straw hat pointed to the small button pinned to the pocket of his shirt: "Legalize marijuana," it read.
"I've been wearing this button for 50 years," the man said.