Washington Pot Parties Light Up:

Pot smokers lit up in Washington state Thursday as recreational marijuana became legal in a historic first for the United States, clouded by the fact that federal law still bans the practice.

Following a Nov. 6 referendum to legalize private consumption of marijuana for recreational use those over 21 to possess and use up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. A number of US states have already legalized pot for medicinal purposes, but Washington is the first allowing it purely for fun.

Colorado residents approved a similar law last month, on the same day President Barack Obama was re-elected, but its pot lovers will have to wait until January 5 to light up with impunity.

What is legal and not about the new law in Washington is still a little fuzzy. The Seattle Police Department said that for the moment it will only issue verbal warnings, even though in theory they could impose $50 fines on those smoking marijuana on a street or in a public square.

Police drew praise for a blog — which became an instant Internet hit — taking a light-hearted approach to explaining exactly what is and isn't legal under the new law.

The "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in Seattle" includes a link to a "Lord of the Rings" video clip entitled "The Finest Weed," showing wizard Gandalf blowing meditative smoke rings with Bilbo Baggins.

"In keeping with the spirit of (the new law), the department's going to give you a generous grace period to help you adjust to this brave, new, and maybe kinda stoned world we live in," wrote the police blogger.

"Does this mean you should flagrantly roll up a mega-spliff and light up in the middle of the street? No.

"But 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."