Jubilant customers light up as pot sales begin in Canada
MONTREAL (AP) :
Jubilant customers stood in long lines for hours then lit up and celebrated on sidewalks on Wednesday as Canada became the world's largest legal marijuana marketplace.
In Toronto, people smoked joints as soon as they rolled out of bed in a big 'wake and bake' celebration. In Alberta, a government website that sells pot crashed when too many people tried to place orders.
And in Montreal, Graeme Campbell welcomed the day he could easily buy all the pot he wanted.
"It's hard to find people to sell to me because I look like a cop," the clean-cut, 43-year-old computer programmer said outside a newly opened pot store.
He and his friend, Alex Lacrosse, were smoking a joint when two police officers walked by. "I passed you a joint right in front of them and they didn't even bat an eye," Lacrosse told his friend.
Festivities erupted throughout the nation as Canada became the largest country on the planet with legal marijuana sales. At least 111 pot shops were expected to open on Wednesday across the nation of 37 million people, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. Uruguay was the first country to legalise marijuana.
Ian Power was first in line at a store in St John's but didn't plan to smoke the one gram he bought after midnight.
"I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall," the 46-year-old Power said. "I'm going to save it forever."
Tom Clarke, an illegal pot dealer for three decades, opened a pot store in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, and made his first sale to his dad. He was cheered by the crowd waiting in line.
"This is awesome. I've been waiting my whole life for this," Clarke said. "I am so happy to be living in Canada right now instead of south of the border."
The start of legal sales wasn't the only good news for pot aficionados: Canada said it intends to pardon everyone with convictions for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana, the newly legal threshold.
"I don't need to be a criminal anymore, and that's a great feeling," Canadian singer Ashley MacIsaac said outside a government-run shop in Nova Scotia. "And my new dealer is the prime minister!"