Portland, Oregon has long been known for its lush landscape, quirky culture, and a connoisseur's affection for coffee beans and resinous hops. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that, since recreational dispensaries started popping up across the Beaver State starting in 2015, Stumptown has also embraced another funky feel-good ingredient: cannabis.
Editor's note: during COVID-19 there may be additional travel restrictions. Check the latest guidance in before planning a trip, and always follow local government health advice.
Portland, Oregon has emerged right up there with Denver and California on the bucket lists of many travelers hoping to try weed the legal way, not to mention dedicated cannatourists who enjoy checking out the scene in non-prohibition destinations coast to coast.
From chic stoner boutiques to traveling party buses to luxe spa services to canna-friendly hotels and other lodging, there have never been more ways to experience Portland’s robust cannabis scene. Here’s everything you need to know about experiencing the Rose City from a higher perspective.
How to stay on the right side of the law
Cannabis may be legal in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean you can partake without following a few ground rules. For one, you must be twenty-one or older to purchase and use cannabis in Oregon. For another, it’s illegal to consume cannabis in public. That means no firing up a joint in bars and you technically shouldn’t puff, puff pass as you saunter down the street, either.
Many apartment buildings and hotels forbid smoking of any sort, too – cannabis or tobacco. So don’t burn unless you’re staying in a short-term rental, hotel room, hostel, or other lodging specifically billed as 420-friendly. That said, edibles, tinctures, topicals, infused toothpicks and other smoke-free methods of cannabis consumption will keep you in the good graces of hosts and hoteliers even if you're in the public eye.
Possession limits set by the state of Oregon are set at one ounce of usable marijuana on your person in public or 8 ounces of usable marijuana in your home, 16 ounces of a cannabinoid product in solid form, 72 ounces of a cannabinoid product in liquid form, or five grams of cannabinoid extracts or concentrates. But it’s unlikely the casual consumer will need to worry about going over those limits, especially if you’re only purchasing what you need to enjoy over a short visit to Portland.
Naturally, you don’t want to run the risk of driving under the influence while using cannabis. If you’re planning on heading out and about after enjoying a cannabis product, plan on taking advantage of Portland’s robust public transit network, enjoying a walk, using a ride-share service or taxi, or booking a trip with a cannabis tour company.
420-friendly hotels and bud-and-breakfasts
The Jupiter Hotel has famously offered various packages and special events for smokers and tokers, an add-on that fits right in with the property’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe (they also offer a tattoo-themed package). This retro-futurist motor lodge in the hip Buckman neighborhood is part of a broader entertainment complex that includes the Doug Fir Lounge, a bar, restaurant and concert venue. That said, don’t run amuk of the $150 smoke cleaning fee that still applies to your room even if you add-on the goodies.
If you prefer the B&B vibe to a traditional hotel, head to The Doctor’s House – a cozy “bud & breakfast” in the artsy Alberta District. This art deco home (and former speakeasy) is very cozy and overflowing with hospitality. Your host is an expert in edibles, cannabis cocktails and tinctures and has a variety of glass pipes and other smoking paraphernalia available for guests to use indoors or out. You can stock up at Uplift Botanicals a few blocks away or the festively named Electric Lettuce Alberta Dispensary.
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Where to smoke cannabis in Portland
Unlike Amsterdam, where coffee shops are practically synonymous (for tourists, anyways) with cannabis use, public consumption laws in Oregon have hampered the development of similar public smoking lounges. That said, a few intrepid entrepreneurs have found a work around by creating private clubs where you can partake without breaking any rules.
Flight Lounge is a private club which operates on a lifetime membership model, managed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and is conveniently located in happening southeast Portland. They also have a second location, the Flight Lounge Cafe on Sandy Boulevard and a bud-and-breakfast hotel with two suites to choose from.
High 5 Tours takes the private club loophole on the road, with a private party bus equipped with munchie snacks, beverages, and equipment like lighters, rolling papers, USB charging ports and dab nails so you can enjoy your stash while visiting destinations like Multnomah Falls, Vista House, Portland’s famous food carts and even the Green Choice cannabis farm.
Whichever tour you pick, High 5’s 2011 Ford Eldorado bus will travel to dispensaries like Electric Lettuce so you can pick up some bud before their knowledgeable, entertaining guides will fill you in on Portland history and culture while you sit back, blaze and enjoy the ride. If you’re traveling with a group, keep in mind that you can also rent out the bus for a private party on wheels.
Editor's note: while High 5 Tours temporarily closed during the pandemic, they will be resuming tours in April and tickets have been on sale since February.
Portland, Oregon dispensaries
There is no shortage of places to purchase quality cannabis in Portland, that’s for sure. When in doubt, though, you can always head to the “Green Mile,” a section of Sandy Boulevard known for its proliferation of dispensaries and cannabis companies.
Some favorites around town include sleek, beginner-friendly weed boutiques like Oregrown, Farma and Virtue Supply Company which have the clean minimalism of an Apple Store. Meanwhile, connoisseurs often flock to Archive for hard-to-find varietals and concentrates.
Other dispensaries are conveniently located by complimentary businesses. Cannabliss on West Burnside Street, for example, is neighbors with Straight From New York Pizza, where you can get a $4.20 slice-and-a-drink special if you show your receipt from next door.
Tokers who like a little social justice with their smoke will dig The People’s Dispensary, a queer and POC-owned outfit dedicated to equity in the industry, and Green Hop, a dispensary that celebrates both cannabis and hip-hop in what was once one of Portland’s historically black neighborhoods.
Wherever you choose to shop, if you served in the military be sure to ask your budtender if there's a special for you. Many dispensaries offer a discount for veterans, too. And at any dispensary, be sure you have your ID and grab some cash from the ATM – most can't process credit cards because cannabis is still illegal at a federal level.
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Even more shopping
That said, there’s more to shop for than just glass and greenery. If you’re hoping to take a souvenir home, buy a gift for a friend, or spend your money on a cool cannabis-adjacent experience, there’s a lot of options beyond picking up some joints at your corner head shop.
The Make and Mary are purveyors of top-quality skin care products made from organic, non-GMO and Oregon-grown ingredients. They also sell candles, t-shirts, jewelry and other products which all feel more VSCO-girl chic in aesthetic than Cheech and Chong. In addition to retail, Make and Mary hosts events focused on self-care that sometimes include cannabis, from tincture workshops to "elevated" yoga to sound baths to loom weaving.
Greater Goods is a brand-new, CBD-focused shop in the Buckman neighborhood that stocks small-batch edibles like strawberry truffles, marshmallow bonbons, and fizzy fruity candies infused with non-intoxicating CBD. Greater Goods also serves coffee, tea, and treats like hot CBD drinking chocolate. They were one of the one of the first companies to come out of The Initiative, a local business accelerator for female cannabis entrepreneurs.
Local bookshops like the iconic Powell’s City of Books also have a wide selection of cannabis-related literature on shelf, in case you want to read up on everything from the basics of smoking weed to horticulture and ethnobotany to cooking and baking, or the intersection of travel and cannabis.
Fun events for weed tourists in Portland
There are several events on the Portland cannabis community’s calendar that are well worth incorporating into your travel itinerary, and have as much to do with arts and culture as savoring a good high.
Spliff Film Festival, which has tour dates in Seattle and San Francisco as well, is returning to Portland for a little pre- 04/20 goodness on April 18th, 2020. Cinephiles will enjoy these shorts from around the world that celebrate the highs, lows and laughs of life with cannabis.
The Gateway Show is a multi-state comedy tour that comes through Portland’s Funhouse Lounge on the regular. The premise is simple: the comedians on the bill that night do one set sober before spending the intermission toking up in an undisclosed location. When they return, they do a second set under the influence, and wackiness – and hilarity– ensue.
Tokeativity is an empowering community for women in cannabis that hosts events in multiple legal cities, including Portland. Check their calendar to see what’s happening during your time in the Rose City, as they have socials centered around a wide variety of topics from meetups for women over 50 (their Silver Society) to gatherings for medical marijuana patients to vision board workshops.
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Before you head to the airport
While it’s true that Chalice Farms has a dispensary just ten minutes drive from the PDX airport, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to partake on airport property, and you definitely don’t want to run afoul of TSA security agents who are adhering to federal regulations rather than state laws.
While the TSA has stated previously they are more worried about sniffing out security threats than searching for a few leftover gummies at the bottom of your backpack, they are obligated to contact law enforcement if they find something.
In other words, finish your stash or gift it to another weed tourist before you depart, and don’t forget to dispose of any leftover cannabis before you try to go through security, hop on the train, or drive across state lines (unless you're headed to California and Washington, that is). While it can be a lot of fun to enjoy cannabis during your time in Oregon, nothing kills your buzz faster than getting busted on your way out of the Beaver State.