A COMMON MISPERCEPTION among my friends is that, as your cannabis columnist, I have a never-ending supply of High Times pot-porn centerfold-quality buds, concentrates, and edibles, all free and provided by smiling growers who have hand-tended each and every plant with the love one would show to a firstborn.
Not exactly. While I have a regular grower, the current range of cannabis strains is more than any one grower can produce.
This leaves me with several choices: Seek out Oregon Medical Marijuana Program growers with excess meds on Craigslist and other herb-themed sites, or visit one of the many fine dispensaries around the state.
My luck with Craigslist and the internet is spotty at best. I've had growers show up two hours late, with a bag of wet, immature buds, only to hear the price has magically gone up since we spoke that morning on the phone. Hells no.
Which leaves me with dispensaries, where all products are tested for THC and CBD content, screened for molds and other pathogens, and sold by knowledgeable professionals.
Every month I try to visit two to five dispensaries that are new to me. I visited one in Portland this past week, and the experience left something to be desired. I'm not going to call them out by name, but I'll be sending a copy of this column to the owners. Here's what they got wrong—local dispensaries, take note.
After walking in and completing the required introductory paperwork, I was told to take a seat. There were internet issues, and 20 minutes passed while the receptionist found a fix.
I walked into a room filled with dozens of half-gallon jars of various strains. I asked the budtender, a twentysomething woman, if the strains I'd selected were indoor or outdoor grown. "Um, I don't really know, but everything is organic." She then struggled for 15 minutes to find my just-finished paperwork.
That's when a blonde dreadlocked woman who seemed to be a friend of the dispensary (she brought cupcakes) walked up to the jars I'd selected and started shaking them like they were Polaroid pictures. This is a huge "faux pot"; it shakes the THC crystals off the buds. She did this to every jar, at least twice. A second budtender paid her no mind, which is odd, seeing as how all the buds are extracted from the jars with chopsticks when weighing them on the scale—lest fingers rub off the THC.
My budtender returned, and apologized for the wait. She beamed while telling me I'd get three free pre-rolled joints as a first-time customer. While awesome and very generous, the strain used in the joints was overly brown and dry, tasted horrible, and contained little THC. And while what I purchased was on the lower end of the price tier, all of the strains shared the same characteristic: They were each better suited for cooking, rather than vaping or smoking.
Yes, everyone was nice. But that doesn't help me when I'm hacking my brains out on mud-colored hay that cost $7 a gram. In the words of my mother: "I'm not angry... just very disappointed."