Yes it is. My first experience buying cannabis at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon USA.
A great day for recreation
A clear and bright day in Portland. A boat or two sail past a glass skyscraper on the Willamette river. The sun reflects a shimmering waveform against the surface of the river water. Blues and Greens and Browns dominate the color spectrum before me. A perfect scene of life and movement and sound.
An early morning yawn with outstretched arms and then a thought: how beautiful the scene is before me.
The People Have Spoken: Measure 91
Disclaimer: I will use the words cannabis and marijuana interchangeably. They are the same thing. Terms like pot and weed and marijuana are evolved slang terms for the actual name of the plant Cannabis sativa L or cannabis.
In 2014 Oregon became the 5th state in the US to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Measure 91, the third attempt, passed by approximately 56% to 44%. Oregon had previously been the first state to decriminalize possession of marijuana in 1973. Sales topped $11 million in the first week that recreational marijuana was legally available for sale. Beating out Washington State and Colorado combined, in their first week – the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
Oregon is serious about cannabis. It was one of the first three states to legalize cannabis for medical use back in 1998. Today there are approximately 300 medical and recreational dispensaries in Oregon.
Measure 91 allows Oregonians 21 and older to:
• Grow up to 4 plants on their property.
• Possess up to 8 ounces of usable cannabis in their homes.
• Carry up to 1 ounce on their person outside of their home.
Cannabis cannot be smoked or consumed in public or within unaided public view. Taking cannabis across state lines is a federal offense subject to enforcement action.
Resource: City of Portland Cannabis Policy FAQs
Farma – Portland, Oregon
All dispensaries are not necessarily equal, but I thought I was a marijuana connoisseur, a veteran…maybe not… because the Farma sales staff have taken the customer experience to a whole other level. If you want a glimpse into the future of customer service, look no further than this establishment located on Hawthorne Boulevard in South East Portland.
As I entered the front entrance, I got a sense that I was at a somewhat stylish and unusual pharmacy; white walls and furniture, clipboards, pens, forms and business cards. A young man with a big smile greeted me, and promptly asked for my identification. “Thank you very much,” he continued, “Okay we only accept cash and there is an ATM inside, you are welcome to go in now.” I entered another door into a little cute oasis of luxurious weed heaven.
The establishment was a cross between a stylish doctor’s office and a jewelry store for hippies. Two chairs and a small charming table to one side and a pint sized unassuming ATM next to it. Very convenient in case I forgot to get that cash before I came. I did. In front of me was a cannabis display like no other I had seen before.
24 different strain varieties of marijuana laid out in a sleek jewelry-type display unit, each sample elegantly presented, labeled, showing mainly its THC and CBD content, a color code and its price per gram in US dollars. Strains with names like Honey Badger Haze, Lemon Betty, CBD Skunk Haze, Chocolate Mint OG, Death Star, Irish Cream, Purple Punch and Tiger Berry to name a few.
An angelic-like being, calm, tattooed, in casual clothing, humbly asks: “How can I help you today?”
My cannabis re-education
I considered myself a marijuana veteran, smoking and eating it for over 20 years. This experience was completely different. Up until now I either purchased my marijuana from someone I knew in secret or happily stumbled upon some marijuana at some friendly bash. In both these situations I was usually presented with only one choice of cannabis. Take it or leave it. It was therefore so eye-opening to witness a seller so eloquently explain the value of their products, with such passion and knowledge.
I felt like I was in a restaurant and the waiter was reciting out the daily specials. By the time he finishes and starts another special dish, I had already forgotten what he had said before.
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in Cannabis. CBD is non-psychoactive and won’t make you feel high. THC is psychoactive and will make you feel high.
Both cannabinoids offer therapeutic and medicinal benefits. But CBD offers them without psychoactive side effects. For that reason, CBD is ideal for patients who do not desire the effects of THC or who cannot as safely consume THC, like children. Benefits include; reducing inflammation, blocking pain receptors, protecting cells, stopping the production of cancer cells, shrinking tumors. An effective treatment for epilepsy, seizures, arthritis and many other conditions.
“We have 24 options and each display you see repeats itself.” There were display cards next to each sample with a color code in the top left corner. “The blue means a high CBD content and a low THC content. These are used primarily for pain management and nausea. The darker red were the ‘pick-me-ups’ and the light red were the ‘put me downs’ as they had lower CBD and higher THC.”
Each strain served a purpose. It was time to decide what to buy. I could buy as low as 1 gram of the strains costing between $9 – $13 dollars.
This was good because it meant I could try 3 strains with different properties. I could purchase as much as 1 ounce. If the THC was too high then I could use another strain to calm and bring the high down somewhat. I had no idea you could do this. I chose 3 strains: Purple Punch (relaxing/calming), Harle Tsu (CBD Rich) and Super Silver Haze (focused/euphoric). The last thing I grabbed was a glass pipe for $6. There were other accessories like more pipe types, rolling papers, a few edibles, smoke pens and oils. Everything you could imagine getting at a cannabis store.
Time to pinch myself
Finally after leaving the dispensary and walking out to my car, I could not help but wonder if this was actually a real experience. Walking into a licensed store and buying marijuana. No medical card or prescription needed. Just my driver’s license, Wow! I had to look around and see if any police officers were about to jump on me. But nothing. No need to be paranoid anymore.