Recreational weed in Portland: finally landed

With October 1st behind us, you’re probably just starting to emerge from the fully recreational haze. How does it feel? Like we’re living in the future, man? It’s kind of insane to think about! Recreational weed is here, and Portland is knee-deep in it.

I myself partaked in a couple of celebrations. First, I went to The Third Eye Shoppe’s celebration on Hawthorne. It was freaking awesome. With at least 9 torches and glassblowers at work, the rest were mingling and chatting with the crowd. As a glass enthusiast, I was elated. I enjoyed seeing John Dillinger, Lea Luna Littleleaf, Renee Patula, and Goliath Glass glassblowing up close and personal, and ended up getting a chance to fangirl all over Renee Patula and Jamie Burress. It was a fantastic event – made better by vendors like EO vapes and Sconed, bakers of edibles in the Portland area. EO Vapes hooked it up with a glass vape pen bubbler attachment (seriously awesome), and Sconed was gifting out free samples of recreational toffee and other sweet treats. The milligram measurement wasn’t anything crazy, my own sample ranged in at only 10mg, but it tasted so good. The taste of weed was barely noticeable, but it was super yummy.

Glassblowers

With all the glassblowing excitement, I had almost forgotten what the day was really about. Natural Wonders, the nearest dispensary, was across the street and down a block. My friend and I walked the few minutes to the dispensary and were surprised to find only one other person in the waiting room. The process was smooth. The receptionist took our licenses and made photocopies for their files. There were beautiful marijuana photographs lining the walls of the waiting room, as well as nice house plants and bright lighting to spruce up the room. It was really pleasant! Once someone left, we were allowed into the actual shop. Two budtenders were there to assist us in showing us the array of flower options. One budtender was there to assist with concentrates and other menu items for medical patients.

Headband

The options were tiered in three rows: $8, $10, and $12 grams. I myself bought a gram of the strain Headband. They gave me a pre-weighed vial and a flyer for not letting it near your children. All in all, the experience was extremely professional, and the weed itself was not top shelf but I’d say better than expected! We returned to the Third Eye and enjoyed some more glassblowing before I moved on to Mary Jane’s House of Glass at NE 33rd and Killingsworth.

Headband-recreational-marijuana-2

NE 33rd and Killingsworth boasts both Mary Jane’s and Uplift Botanicals, a high-class dispensary in the area. When I first arrived, I saw a booth set up outside the dispensary with a Mary Jane’s clerk. He was advertising for the scavenger hunt that Mary Jane’s was throwing, but also was equipped with ice cream sandwiches, Uplift’s menu, and a great attitude. He pointed myself and others in the direction of the headshop, which I checked out briefly before returning to Uplift. While I wasn’t in the market for glass, it’s always fun to see what new things they’ve got in stock over there.  

It was a good thing I returned to Uplift when I did, however, because unlike Natural Wonders, this place was packed. When I first walked in, the receptionist took my name and birthdate from my license on a legal pad. The order in which we were let in depended on when you showed up, but because of the shear volume of people, they moved on quickly if you weren’t there to hear your name called. I wasn’t there for long when the amount of people seemed to double. By the time I got in the actual shop, the line was a cluster of people outside the door. I felt bad for the receptionist, who was being overwhelmed by so many people. Inside was far calmer and more casual, however. I looked at the updated menu, as they had sold out of some of their strains, and they had only $10 grams listed. When my gram of the strain J1 rang up as $8, however, they called it at that and I tipped them the remaining $2. Think of it this way, if budtenders are like bartenders, you should always tip if they go above and beyond in service.

Mary-Janes-House-of-Glass-map

In terms of the bud itself, I preferred the Headband to the J1, but both were quality middle tier flowers, I would say. It’s hard to believe it already happened, that I was able to buy weed, take it home, and legally smoke it, but it’s real. We’re here now, and yes, the weed is untaxed! So go out, take out some cash, and find your favorite neighborhood pot shop! 

 

October Sales: What really lies ahead

Obviously rushing to sales in October meant some speed bumps ahead, but it always seemed like the benefits far outweighed the costs. However, now I’m realizing that one of these costs is clarity. In trying to update and confirm the status on October sales, I’ve come across some confusing legislature.

Senate Bill 460, the bill allowing October sales, mentions nothing about taxation during this time period. There are stipulations – for example, recreational users 21 and over, may only buy up to a quarter ounce per day (per dispensary). That’s not a bad guideline, but it turns out that there will be quite a bit of tax on this weed. Maybe?

According to oregon.gov’s FAQ page on recreational marijuana, there will be a 25% tax to pay in dispensaries. The answer to the question of taxation continues: “Recreational sales in medical dispensaries are slated to start on October 1, 2015, and end on December 31, 2016.The tax will be imposed on sales after January 4, 2016.” I had already known of this possibility of tax-free weed and believed it, but here it’s mentioned so briefly. Does this 25% tax really start as late as January, even though it says that the “tax will be 25% for the limited time that recreational marijuana will be sold in dispensaries?”

That seems so straightforward – 25% tax for recreational sold in dispensaries. This starts in October and lasts until a predicted December 31st, 2016. This is already a limited amount of time, but the “after January 4, 2016” undercuts 3 months of that. However, despite that brief mention at the end, that sentiment suggests yes, tax-free weed.

That said, dispensaries are getting ready to take advantage of this opportunity for profit. I’ve already been made aware of the fact that some dispensaries will only be showing their buyers the “bottom shelf shwag,” as we say. Thousands of people who have never seen something like a dispensary will have this skewed perception of bud, and be paying extra for it. Not to mention, there will be a limit to only “4 units” of non-flower marijuana product. You can only buy seeds, flower, and clones (a marijuana plant that is not flowering). No concentrates, no edibles or drinkables, just cold, dry, flower.

Just kidding – it’s really not that bad, but once January hits, that 25% will be rough. When there’s no overlap of recreational retail stores, still predicted for open in July, 2016, it’ll be especially bad. When those retail stores open, the taxes will be around 17-20%, much less than the dispensary prices. But I’m predicting that right around May, all the dispensaries will start showing off, to keep the recreational crew coming. December 31st, 2016 marks the end of recreational sale in dispensaries, so they’ll have to use these upcoming months wisely. Keep an eye out for that bottom shelf, and growing your own is still the best way!