New cannabis consumers are born every day. I'm one of them.
Until a few weeks ago, I'd never set foot inside a dispensary, and hadn't indulged the sweet leaf in any form for almost a decade.
Perhaps that's an admission better kept to myself. But if you're reading this, I suspect you can relate. After all, a state doesn't rake in half a billion dollars in recreational sales—as Oregon did last year—through the spending power of vandwellers and High Times subscribers alone. In Portland, cannabis, as an industry, has normalized faster than anyone predicted, economists included.
Of course, it was an essential part of the culture here long before voters elected to make it legal in 2015. Since legalization, though, weed has weaved itself into the landscape to such a degree that it's easy to forget how new it is, and that not everyone is starting from the same point.
It's a fact we at Willamette Week—the newspaper that publishes this magazine—sometimes take for granted when covering other areas of the city's culture. Somewhere, a nascent beer drinker is taking that first sip of an IPA, and having his or her palate exposed to a whole other level of connoisseurship. And about two months ago, I was inhaling my maiden hit of legally purchased Dogwalker OG. Once I stopped coughing, it struck me loud and clear: The game has changed in ways I've only begun to realize.
Chances are, it's happened to you at some point in the past three years, too. So you can believe me when I tell you—navigating Portland cannabis is no simple matter.
Oregon literally has more weed than it knows what to do with right now. Even with 540 licensed dispensaries carrying jar upon glistening jar of high-quality flower, there's still so much being grown across the state that prices have plunged to the cheapest in the nation. It's not just the sheer volume of choice that's overwhelming, but how we talk about it. Unfiltered conversation with experts who know their stuff inevitably turns into a cyclone of scientific jargon. No longer is getting high discussed in terms of abstract "vibes." It's all terpenes and cannabinoids and phenotypes and THC-to-CBD ratios. For the newcomer, it can be dizzying, confusing, even a little intimidating.
Well, uncross your eyes. We're here to help.
What you'll find in this issue of Potlander is a curated road map to the dispensaries, edibles, strains and products most worth your time and money. Our writers—the sort of expert consumers who know their linanool from their caryophyllene but also know those terms give the layman a migraine—have sorted the schwag from the dank, so to speak, to provide you with a clear point of entry. Or so we hope.
And as for you, the career pothead: This is an industry still just coming into being, and the pace of change is beginning to accelerate. Years of prohibition stalled study into the science of this exceedingly complex plant, but strides are finally being made, and the possibilities of what it can do—and the experiences it can provide—seem limitless. As Dr. Adie Poe, one of the country's leading cannabis researchers, tells us, "even the seasoned stoner has so much room for optimization and improvement."
And that, really, is what this year's guide to all things pot in Portland is about. While dedicated professionals work to build a better cannabis industry, our goal is to create a better cannabis consumer. Whether you've already cataloged every strain at your neighborhood dispensary or just picked up your first pre-roll, we hope you'll learn something—because when it comes down to it, we're all pretty new at this.