We started Potlander to celebrate a bright new era of consumption with an unapologetically bougie guide to cannabis in Portland.

At the time, that felt so…right. Remember the heady days of 2015, just after legalization, when taxes were light, testing requirements were reasonable and public-consumption rules made sense? Remember when prerolls were handed out like breath mints, vape-friendly events were happening every month and the shop shelves always had some crazy new pot product? Remember the days of weed brunches and parties at the World Famous Cannabis Cafe?

Life comes at you fast, I guess. Portland's cannabis industry is in a very different place now. Yes, the mood is soured by the fact the burgeoning industry now lives under the threat of a crackdown by the Trumpistas. But, beyond that, the state's stern new regulations have shaved the margins—Oregon subjects your flower to wildly expensive tests that bear no resemblance to the testing of alcohol, let alone any plant on the market. Our local government has been merciless in cracking down on any place that allows consumption onsite—even though secondhand vapor is essentially harmless—while the riverbed running through the middle of Portland is a Superfund site.

Oregon's cannabis rules are both rapidly evolving and, frankly, stupid. Our inept and greedy state government has crushed the dreams of too many bright-eyed entrepreneurs. And there's no lifeline coming, as California's coming recreational market is sucking up investors' energy.

But when a plant has been an essential part of the human experience for thousands of years, there is some precedent. Since pot prohibition began, the popularity of cannabis and other drugs has ebbed and flowed.

While working on this edition, I've become more than a little obsessed with vintage pot publications, from Head to Sinsemilla Tips. I've corresponded with former High Times editor Steven Hager, who was the first man to put the words "hip-hop" in print and the father of the Cannabis Cup. I even wrote to Ken Kesey's son with a weird question  about Roseburg.

What did I learn from people who lived through the lean times?

First, that direct democracy is the way forward. Remember, Oregon politicians didn't make the grown-up decision to legalize cannabis. The voters did that. If those politicians want to continue their jihad against good sense, we can give them another beatdown at the ballot box, either through an initiative to establish reasonable rules for cannabis clubs, festivals and testing, or by voting the bums out.

Second, that it's going to be up to a new generation of cannabis activists to make this happen. I'm no apologist for baby boomers, who are largely responsible for the sorry state of this country, but their ranks gave us crusaders like Dennis Peron, Marc Emery, Madeline Martinez and the late Jack Herer. From talking to people about Herer for this story, I was awed by how hard he worked, and for how long. We need to continue that fight.

So take this year's Potlander and use it to find the 79 best shops in the Portland area, as well as the top edibles, strains and gear. At the same time, be ready to fight for your right to enjoy those things. That day may be coming, and sooner than we had hoped.

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