Cultivation Classic 2019: Never Been to a Cannabis Dispensary? Here’s What you Need to Know

One of the first questions your budtender should ask you: Are you comfortable with intoxication?

From total dude stoner joints (pun intended) to high end cannabis retail shops, going into a dispensary for the first time can kinda be well, a trip. There’s like weed! In a display case! OMG >>> insert intermittent giggles here. >>>

Oh, that was just me? Nevermind. The kid in a candy shop metaphor is like, so overdone but dang, so true.

But for real, heading into (see what I did there) a pot shop of any demographic and sophistication can be intimidating.

On Friday, I went to Farma to hear about how to navigate the dispensary experience as part of this year’s Cultivation Classic. This isn’t my first rodeo, aka I know my way around a dispensary, though I do ask a lot of questions and I like to gauge the culture, because dispensaries are plentiful around the city and branding runs the gamut.

Last weekend’s Cultivation Classic here in Portland provided many opportunities for learning. I was bopping around town, covering the event for the daily newspaper in Medford, the Mail Tribune and it’s free cannabis magazine, Southern Oregon Good Herb.

I went to Farma first because I wanted to hear what they had to say about the dispensary experience. As this is a green (ha, OK I will stop already) industry that is changing all the time, I love hearing about the language that is coming forward to describe the discoveries. At Farma, Andrea Sparr-Jaswa, director of education and outreach, was on hand with a presentation on what you need to know when coming into a dispensary.

Andrea Sparr-Jaswa of Farma, a cannabis dispensary in PDX, talks about how to best navigate the dispensary experience.

First of all, I appreciate that a dispensary has an education and outreach position. So much about the cannabis industry has to do with sharing useful and practical information that breaks down misconceptions and taboos. For those not familiar with Farma, it’s a high end boutique dispensary, with some of the best cannabis in the state. It’s environment is clean, airy and easy on the eyes with its aesthetic. The budtenders know what they are talking about and are helpful. It’s a mellow vibe. Kinda like walking into Common Grounds for a soak.

All that said, no matter where you are, when you walk into a dispensary, someone should ask you: “Is this your first time?”

Your budtender would hopefully take it from there asking you a range of other questions such as:

Are you comfortable with intoxication?

What is your comfort level with cannabis?

What is your experience with THC?

Do you have a preferred method of administration?

Do you have a method you like to avoid?

Do you know your ideal or preferred serving size for edibles?

What are you looking for: Intoxication or symptomatic relief?

If you are looking for symptomatic relief, Sparr-Jaswa says your budtender should be asking you questions like, “What are you experiencing? Does this need to be for daytime use? Have you found a cannabis product that has worked well for you in the past?”

And if you are looking to get intoxicated, your budtender can be asking you, what kind of effect are you looking to achieve?

It’s a lot of questions, yes. But the goal is to find you the best cannabis strain for the best possible experience, you are looking for! The budtender is there to help and make recommendations. But remember, they can give you information regarding the data of the strain (regarding THC, CBD, terpenes, etc.) and they can share their personal experience, but ultimately, it’s your body so it’s your decision. How one strain affects one person can be very different from what their friend or family member experiences. The same goes for what the budtender says.

What’s Out There

Not surprisingly, there are lots of different types of products on the market. Inhalants, ingestibles, sublingual and oromucosal, transdermal and topicals are all available for your experimentation.

The main point mostly everyone in cannabis will tell you when trying something new: start low and go slow. Somebody should make t-shirts.

“Intoxication is not a competition,” says Sparr-Jaswa. “Go at your own pace.”

So, let’s break down the different types of products on the market. According to Farma’s Sparr-Jaswa:

  • Inhalants – Rapid onset, shortest duration. Flower under 20 percent THC and mixed ratios (meaning a mix of THC and CBD_ are the best.
  • Concentrates – Discreet, portable. Easy to maintain. Reduces carcinogens. Pro tip: Make sure you know what extraction methods are being used and if additives are present. There is a concern over terpene toxicity while dabbing at high temperatures. Something to keep an eye on, as more research comes out.
  • Ingestibles – These include edibles, drinkables, tinctures, capsules and infusions. 30-120 minute onset time. Wait at least 2 hours to take a second dose or until your tolerance is known. These have longer duration effects than inhalants, four plus hours. Taking less than a 2.5 mg serving reduces the likelihood of uncomfortable intoxication until tolerance is determined.
  • Topicals – Non-intoxicating! This is the best way to get someone new into cannabis. The medicine is site-specific, fast acting and can come in a variety of forms: oils, gels, salves and lotions.
  • Other options: Sublingual (tinctures, oil infusions, spray, dissolving strips); Transdermal (patches and gels) and Suppository (can be used rectally or vaginally. These are available in the Washington market, not in Oregon).

It’s also important to think about your preferable activation time. Do you want something that will impact you immediately, or are you willing to wait a couple of hours for a longer lasting effect? Think about your medical concerns and what you want to address. Or maybe you just want to get high, that’s fine, too.

Whatever your preference, ask questions, learn about the strains, look into the different terpenes present and allow yourself to experiment. You may even want to get a notebook and document your findings. After all, this is your health and there are a lot of products on the market. There is likely something perfect for you.

Check out Farma, 916 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland.

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