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New to cannabis? These 4 Oregon shops are perfect for first-timers

Published on June 21, 2021 · Last updated July 12, 2021

Navigating the world of all-things-cannabis can bring up a lot of questions for a first-time consumer, and while there are many awesome cannabis shops in Oregon, it’s helpful to know which go the extra mile to provide a friendly and comfortable experience for beginners. Here are four stores we think do just that.

Farma in Portland, OR

(Courtesy of Farma)

Farma has a reputation as one of the most education-focused dispensaries in the state. Their Co-Director of Education, Zoe Sigman, leads a “Cannabis Science 101” workshop at Oregon’s Cultivation Classic, which aims to give consumers a basic understanding of how the effects of cannabis work.

In addition to their efforts in educating the community, Farma places an emphasis on in-store education by listening to the specific needs of each customer.

“Listening is a big part of education,” says Alisha Kryszylowicz, Farma’s buyer and budtender. “If you just dive in a little bit deeper, you can really find out what people are truly looking for.”

For Kryszylowicz, that begins with a series of questions to gage a customer’s experience, tolerance, and comfort level with cannabis. By taking a listening-first approach, budtenders can make better recommendations and educate the customer on why a specific product is right for them.

Jamaica Joel’s in Eugene, OR

(Courtesy of Jamaica Joel’s)

The budtenders at Jamaica Joel’s are passionate about cannabis education—and that passion comes through in their interactions with customers.

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One way they differentiate themselves is by going the extra mile to educate the consumer beyond the most common cannabis terms (like “indica” and “sativa”) so they understand how and why the products they’re choosing work.

“I will use the terms ‘indica’ and ‘sativa’ because those are the terms that customers are familiar with,” explains manager Danni Brener. “But when I use them, I will explain to them that we’ve come to associate those terms with these different effects—but what really causes the effects are the terpenes.”

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Jamaica Joel’s also has plans to roll out more structured educational opportunities for consumers. “We’re working on getting community programs where we have vendors, farms, researchers, and experts do sessions for the community,” Brener says. “That’s in the pipeline.”

Chalice Farms in Portland, OR

(Courtesy of Chalice Farms)

Chalice Farms, which has multiple locations in the Portland area, feels more like a high-end boutique than a cannabis shop. Its open layout provides ample opportunities to interact with budtenders on the floor, making it ideal for first-time consumers.

“We don’t use the traditional bar setup,” says Chalice Farm’s corporate trainer, Penn Louis. “That can be a bit intimidating if it’s your first time and you feel rushed—as though you’re taking someone’s time away from a busy bar.”

The layout at Chalice Farms is set up to foster interactions with consumers—but it’s the budtenders commitment to making the process easy and educational that really makes it stand out as a great shop for first-time consumers.

“It’s really important for us to be able to take something that’s intimidating to most new folks and break it down into an easily digestible experience,” says Louis. “If you were new to something, you would want someone to take a little bit extra time. So, we really focus on making sure our staff is willing and ready to do that.”

Oregrown in Bend, OR

(Courtesy of Oregrown)

For consumers who feel easily alienated by shops steeped in stoner culture, Oregrown has developed approachable, lifestyle-centric branding that invites new cannabis consumers.

“We’re very accessible in the way we present our real estate,” says Aviv Hadar, CEO and co-founder of Oregrown. “[Consumers] see an Oregon cannabis lifestyle company with a big emphasis on surfing, snowboarding, getting outside, hiking, biking—and then they see that cannabis is secondary.”

What to Expect on Your First Visit to a Dispensary or Retail Cannabis Shop

“Everything we do is based around education,” Hadar says, speaking to the company’s core values. “We approach our retail as more of a community center. It’s less about buying products, and more about you experiencing cannabis.”

Priding themselves in well-educated budtenders, Oregrown encourages customers to have engaging conversations with their budtender.

“It’s not one customer standing in front of a budtender being served,” Hadar says. “It’s very dynamic in nature.”

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Deanna deBara
Deanna deBara
Deanna deBara is a freelance writer and journalist based in Portland, OR. Deanna covers health and wellness topics, and you can find her work in Greatist, Playboy, Men's Health, and other health-conscious publications.
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