Consumer Cannabis Buying Trends in Portland

portland-road-sign-cannabis-by Rex Wholster
Photo: Rex Wholster/ shutterstock

Consumer cannabis buying trends in Portland and elsewhere are beginning to reflect the times. Advances in growing techniques and technology, the addition of thousands of scientific studies, and the further spread of oil, edible, or concentrated cannabis products into the cross-country weed-loving culture has affected how and where people consume marijuana as much – if not more than – the law rolling back prohibition for adult consumers.



consumer cannabis buying trends in PortlandThe recreational program in Portland and other cities across Oregon continue to gain steam, integrating into the local society with varying degrees of transparency. In some communities marijuana businesses, such as a dispensary or edible product manufacturer, are banned from operating and in others, they are able to open and operate with few limitations. This, in itself, creates what we can call a secondary market – a situation wherein people will travel to another city or municipality to purchase a product or obtain a service.

Portland functions as the largest marijuana market in Oregon by both residential population and total sales. The city currently has no restriction on how many marijuana-related businesses can operate and when combined with the large population, Portland becomes a highly sought location for market share. Calculate in the millions of visitors the city receives annually and the potential grows even larger. However, the lack of license limit for dispensaries and other marijuana-related business, if left unchecked, could ultimately lead to a price battle as dispensaries face stiff competition in a flooded market.

Edibles

It’s not surprising edibles are one of the fastest growing areas for consumers buying cannabis in Portland. The category had long been seen as a cookie or a brownie and, more importantly, they were not commonly available from street-level dealers. The rise of the legal market has given rise to a complimentary culture of marijuana use which is increasingly involving food and uses milligrams (mg) amounts to gauge how strong the product is. Beyond the lack of access to edibles provided by illegal dealers, if you did somehow get your hands on some edibles, it wasn’t common you’d know the percentages of the differing cannabinoids or have the dosage determined using the metric system. It can throw people.

Oregon made it easy, limiting all recreational edible products to 50mg per package which has to be separated into individual doses, usually 5mg each. This limit is half of the 100mg total THC threshold maintained by Colorado and Washington.

Concentrates

In both medical and recreational markets, the rise of concentrates as a preferred product resounds across the country. Whether this is due to the increased potency, discreteness of oil pens or edible products, enhanced experience, or elevated effect profile is anyone’s guess. As such a trend in consumer’s buying cannabis, Portland has to seen concentrate purchasing increase at a rate far exceeding growth in traditional flower sales.

Of course, smoked flower remains the most widely known method of using cannabis, often leaving visitors and dispensary newbies unaware of how to use concentrates – or what to make of the potency. This provides an opportunity to educate and, in so doing, create a relationship with the people, the culture, the science, and the product. For expert consumers, concentrates provide a stronger high with less smoking involved and are excellent for constructing edibles.

Pressure of Prices

Of the products available at your typical dispensary, edible products seemingly have a more stable price. Flower and trim continue to flood the market as more growers become licensed and start operations. In Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been sold recreationally since 2014, this very situation has pushed down flower prices. Once flower could be bought and sold for lower prices, so too did the price of concentrates drop.

There are a variety of things affecting concentrate price. Level of refinement, potency, cannabinoid profile, where it was purchased, or where it was grown are all great examples of factors impacting price, yet the biggest thing affecting price – oddly enough – is the possibility of excess supply, where growers produce flower and trim in volumes more than adequate to cover demand, assuming the Oregon Liquor Control Commission sorts out more laboratory access for retail product testing, allowing businesses to lower prices to expand their appeal to consumers.

In the changing consumer landscape, edibles have barely breached the mainstream weed culture. It’s important to recall most places have a weed culture where you have to call a dealer rather than enter a store. Edibles are commonly a type of sweet, such as cookie or brownie, and can be found in sugary drink form. Other common forms, such as a tincture, are often flavored sweetly but do not conjure the same insulin response as eating five brownies (presuming you’re an experienced consumer). To this extent, a large part of Portland’s pot consuming population and, specifically, the travelers are unlikely to have grasped the full possibilities of cooking with cannabis or how the effects differ.

And that’s the point: the trend of consumers in Portland buying cannabis-infused products and concentrates is derivative of consumer curiosity combined with the knowledge it won’t kill you. Edibles produce a longer experience, concentrates a stronger experience, and everyone buying is learning how they prefer cannabis to influence them in the surreal legal market.