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Recreational marijuana sales bring long lines to a West Hollywood dispensary

Recreational marijuana sales bring long lines to a West Hollywood dispensary
Customers line up outside MedMen dispensary on the first day of recreational marijuana sales in West Hollywood. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

On the first day of recreational marijuana sales in West Hollywood, the mood was celebratory and the line was long.

A crowd of about 80 people stood outside MedMen's Santa Monica Boulevard location on Tuesday, willing to wait as long as 45 minutes for their chance to buy marijuana from a retail storefront without a prescription.

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"I'm glad I got to experience the feeling, the moment" of purchasing marijuana from a store, as opposed to acquiring it "other ways," said shopper Sandra Jimenez, a Connecticut resident visiting Los Angeles for the holidays.

Wearing shirts that read "It's legal," MedMen employees checked IDs at the door and stamped red marijuana plants onto customers' hands. Guards kept the shop from getting too crowded, letting in only five customers at a time. Customers took selfies as they waited their turn.

Eron Silverstein, right, shops at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational marijuana sales.
Eron Silverstein, right, shops at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational marijuana sales. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Cities and counties across California were greenlit to allow the recreational sale of marijuana on Jan. 1. But when it comes to issuing permits to marijuana businesses, municipalities are taking different approaches at different speeds.

Several stores in Santa Ana, San Diego and Palm Springs opened for recreational sales Monday. MedMen was one of three West Hollywood businesses that began recreational sales Tuesday, attracting shoppers from the city, as well as from Inglewood and even New York.

"I'm overwhelmed by the products," said Becky Filer as she looked over weed infused lip balm, honey and teas. The New York resident said it was "perfect timing" for her vacation to coincide with the debut of recreational marijuana in California.

Dispensaries have eagerly awaited recreational sales, which could bring a new demographic of customers — and more revenue — to their shops. MedMen spokesman Daniel Yi said the company was ready for the influx of customers.

"This store pretty much looks the same as it did two to three days ago when it was selling medical marijuana," he said.

For the most part, shoppers weren't put off by the long lines.

"We're making history for L.A.," said a West Hollywood resident who gave his name as Mike C. "It's pretty cool people want to be a part of it."

Marijuana on display at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational sales.
Marijuana on display at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational sales. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

There were two lines inside Alternative Herbal Health Services, a dispensary several blocks east on Santa Monica Boulevard — one to look at the display case and get recommendations from an employee, another to make a purchase.

Some customers waited more than an hour.

West Hollywood resident Ryan Glasgow, 46, has long used his medical marijuana card at Alternative Herbal Health Services to purchase edible pot products to treat back pain and help him sleep.

Usually a quick transaction, Tuesday's line, he said, was "a little inconvenient."

Customers shop at MedMen in West Hollywood.
Customers shop at MedMen in West Hollywood. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Jeff Cosper shows the inside of a stainless steel pot filled with marijuana for sale at MedMen in West Hollywood.
Jeff Cosper shows the inside of a stainless steel pot filled with marijuana for sale at MedMen in West Hollywood. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
A line continues across the street to shop at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational marijuana sales.
A line continues across the street to shop at MedMen in West Hollywood on the first day of recreational marijuana sales. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Selena Solis fills customer orders at MedMen in West Hollywood.
Selena Solis fills customer orders at MedMen in West Hollywood. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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UPDATES:

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include descriptions of the scene at Alternative Herbal Health Services.

This article was originally published at 3:10 p.m.

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