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Get in the Van'

On the road, lookin' for weed, in the 'Couv.

 

It took a little longer than it needed to, but Washington has finally figured out the recreational marijuana business. Or so it seems from a recent Saturday afternoon trek to the two recreational marijuana dispensaries nearest Portland, where our hassle-free visits took less than 10 minutes each.

Yes, the prices are still high—we went budget and paid $20 per gram at each, double the price of OMMP weed—but so is the quality. Unless you've already got a guy you really like, New Vansterdam or Main Street Marijuana are now viable options for Portlanders who want to dabble in weed.

Traveling from the I-205 Bridge…

New Vansterdam

6515 E Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-597-4739, newvansterdam.com.

New Vansterdam is situated next to Safeway and a Jackson Hewitt tax preparation office in a thoroughly suburban stretch of town. Nearby, there's a pay phone and a bus stop with cold, wet people from the surrounding apartment megaplexes. Inside, it smells like weed—well, like bong water—and there's a security guard checking IDs before you can even get to the ATM.

After passing through another door, you enter a wide-open room with two counters where you can pick a strain or buy a bong. Vansterdam seems to be aiming for the Denver dispensary vibe, with reclaimed wood paneling and iPad minis for perusing the dossiers on available strains. A couple from Seattle is impressed: "This is so nice compared to the ones up there. It's way cleaner."

You don't really need the iPad to go through the 200-plus-item menu since there's also a handy binder at each station. A little plastic spice jar has been repurposed for smelling samples, which the budtenders say they try to switch out every week. After you pick a strain, you go into a third room where there's a cash register, then over to another station where you hand over your receipt and get a brown paper bag with your preweighed and packaged weed.

Pros: Plenty of parking, nearby Vanco driving range if you want to hit a bucket after smoking, Muchas Gracias located next to driving range.

Cons: Far from the freeway, sterile, Muchas Gracias is not that good.

Traveling from the I-5 Bridge…

Main Street Marijuana

2314 Main St., Vancouver, 360-828-7737, mainstmj.com.

The hipper, more urbane of Vancouver's two recreational dispensaries, Main Street Marijuana sits behind a frosted-glass window on the leafy northern edge of 'Couvian downtown. Inside, you probably won't even see the security guard until you're leaving, since he's perched behind the door. The back wall is graffiti-styled, the light fixtures are from IKEA, and there's a domesticated seating area with a leather couch and books—in other words, it looks just like your dealer's house after his ladyfriend moved in.

The menu is smaller than New Vansterdam's, but there are more unusual strains, including a "historic first harvest" of Berry White from Life Gardens, which the budtender recommends. The place seems busy with old people asking endless questions about vape pens, but the budtender says business is slow and it only takes about five minutes to get an order, which comes in a baggie with your name on it, just like at Starbucks, and a complimentary bowl, because you can never have too many bowls.

Pros: Free bowl with purchase; next to a record store; indie movie theater nearby; Muchas Gracias also within walking distance, but so is Woody's Tacos (which is way better).

Cons: Parking can be a hassle, and you're downtown, so everyone is watching you and knows.  

Willamette Week's Annual Weed Issue, 2015

Vancouver Marijuana Scene Report Six New Portland Dispensary Picks

 How To Talk to Your Parents About Weed | Cannabis Shop Etiquette

Map: 10 Best Marijuana Discounts | Can a Lifelong Pot Hater Find the Perfect Strain?

The Most Advanced Bong Ever | Mapping the Weed Genome

Great Advances in the History of Oregon Weed History