The Evergreen State began granting marriage licenses to gay couples Thursday morning while crowds lit joints at a celebration beneath the Space Needle in Seattle. The laws legalizing same-sex unions and the recreational use of marijuana took effect at midnight.

“We have the greatest feeling of happiness and relief and excitement,” said Lisa Brodoff, 57, a law professor at Seattle University who is now married to Lynn Grotsky, her partner of 32 years. They became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Thurston County and possibly the state.

Washington’s Democratic-controlled state Legislature passed a bill legalizing gay marriage in February, but opponents collected enough signatures to temporarily block the measure shortly after Gov. Christine Gregoire signed it into law. The block forced the issue onto the state ballot in November, when voters passed it by 54 percent.

Marijuana fans temporarily had permission to enjoy the drug in public at the celebration Thursday but police officers will begin to issue citations for such use in the near future.

“The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to,” police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee said on the SPD Blotter.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Huffington Post:

Washington’s new law decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce for those over 21, but for now selling marijuana remains illegal. I-502 gives the state a year to come up with a system of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores, with the marijuana taxed 25 percent at each stage. Analysts have estimated that a legal pot market could bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new tax revenue for schools, health care and basic government functions.

But marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That means federal agents can still arrest people for it, and it’s banned from federal properties, including military bases and national parks.

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