Getting top pot for your dollar

Balancing homework, social life, employment, and getting high can be pretty challenging, especially on a desperate student budget. Additionally, blazing is not always the most convenient for getting Latin homework done or achieving your munchie-avoidant January weight loss resolution.

Whether you are a “budding” weed connoisseur or have never touched pot in your life, there are plenty of resources available for navigating this big green city and getting exactly what you are looking for.

Portland State students Nick, Sonja, and Rachel, who preferred not to reveal their last names, suggested that over-21 students do not necessarily need to buy cannabis or partake in it often.

“I’ve never paid for drugs,” Sonja said, adding that often her friends gift her marijuana. “If you are charismatic you can figure it out.”

Nick said that he only partakes in edibles “once or twice in the summer.”

Dispensary budtenders are trained to choose strains for new customers based on exactly what they need. Andrea Durland, a budtender at La Mota dispensary in southeast Portland, said it’s important to work with the customer’s budget first and foremost. After that, customers are given a variety of options based on how they want to consume the plant.

“We ask what [the customer] is working with, like whether they have any paraphernalia or they want to smoke or vape,” Durland said. “We set them up and walk them through the process.”

Customers are usually given a menu that lists the different bud strains the dispensary carries, including what effects are usually noticed and how much THC, the hallucinogenic chemical, and CBD, the chemical often used to relieve menstrual pain or put users to sleep, is present in the strains. Different effects are determined by plant engineering and are tested by the public to determine their common effects. “[Producers] are able to select for different traits and different phenotypes to get what they want,” Durland said.

Many customers choose to smoke weed in a “blunt,” or cigar form. If one does not desire fancy smoking, however, a variety of vaporizers, vape pens, bowls, and pipes are available to avoid burning one’s throat. Budtenders can offer direction for how many grams a new customer should start out with, but more concentrated iterations like hash and less-palatable resin are available for seasoned consumers.

Resin is the black tar-like substance left over after smoking a bowl or pipe. It is extremely potent, but “gross” according to Durland. Hash is the sticky, THC-concentrated substance that builds up on cutting tools when marijuana plants are processed.

Inhaling weed chemicals provides the most rapid effects, but ingesting marijuana can produce a longer-lasting high. The high will last longer in a slow metabolism and shorter in a fast one. Since the recreational daily limit in grams of cannabis recently rose in Oregon from 15mg to 50mg, customers are no longer able to buy a $6 brownie or gummy. Now customers must spend $25 or more on edibles, but Sarah explained that these products can be broken up into many pieces for careful consumption.

Finding out a list of contaminants like pesticides or fertilizers is much easier for pot than it is for food. Since the Oregon Health Authority found in 2016 some strains of cannabis containing high levels of pesticides, all dispensaries in Oregon are required to keep full chemical lists for every strain on hand so that customers know exactly what they are ingesting. Additionally, there is currently no true organic standard for marijuana. Customers concerned about getting organic strains should ask their budtender for the list of chemicals present in their product.

Sonja and Rachel have consumed cannabis in a variety of ways, ranging from homemade apple bowls and toilet paper roll and rubber band pipes, to milk jugs and plain rolled blunts. With the demands of homework and employment, however, Sonja suggested understanding one’s priorities as a student first and foremost. “If you’re tight on money, prioritize food,” Sonja said.

Sarah suggested customers look through the website to explore strains, read reviews, and decide how they want to consume their product before coming to the dispensary. Leafly posts reviews of local dispensaries, which can help a customer choose the most inexpensive products for their taste.

Trying marijuana for the first time does not have to be intimidating or expensive. Finding products to suit your needs and knowing exactly what you are consuming is not difficult either.

Rachel offered one more word of advice: “Be mindful of yourself as a student and what you’re willing to do and not do. Take care of yourself first.”