The Weed Industry Is Booming, Creating Scores of New Cannabis Consumers. Here’s a First-Timer’s Guide to 420.

So, you've decided to become a stoner...

Cannabis lifestyle. (Emily Joan Greene)

Who would've thought the most stressful year in modern history would end up igniting a boom for the weed industry?

In retrospect, that seems obvious. Still, the numbers are staggering: In 2020, recreational cannabis sales in Oregon topped $1 billion for the first time, nearly doubling 2019's total. Surely, some of that can be attributed to dedicated puffers stocking up for quarantine. But even with the anxiety of the pandemic subsiding, dispensaries remain busier than ever: According to Oregon Liquor Control Commission data, sales in March exceeded $109 million—an all-time high for a single month.

It's clear that in the last year, many Oregonians sought out a new coping mechanism and came away with a new vice.

"I don't want to use the word 'habit,'" Adam Smith, director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance, said in December, "but people get into a pattern where that's something they've incorporated into their lives."

That's why, with the highest of high holidays approaching, we've dedicated our annual 420 Issue to Portland's newest stoners—those who decided to pop a gummy between Zoom meetings, or replaced happy-hour drinks with a post-work spliff, and want to know what to do next.

Need advice on buying your first pipe or bong? We asked an expert for tips on how to find the piece that's perfect for you. Want to use that new piece in your apartment without tipping off the neighbors or violating your lease? We reviewed four commercial filters, to see if any of them match up to the dorm-room classic: a dryer sheet wrapped around one end of a toilet paper roll (page 16).

And then, of course, there are the more complicated questions. How do you build tolerance? Do budtenders know what they're talking about? Is CBD a scam? How high is too high, and what can you do to come down? We went to two cannabis educators for answers.

Clearly, there's more to getting high than just getting high, and navigating a rapidly evolving industry can be overwhelming. But through the smoke, there is a path—consider this your road map.

— Matthew Singer, Arts & Culture Editor

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