An Expert’s Guide to Portland’s Weed Scene

Cannabis-inspired artist Yvonne Perez Emerson takes us on a field trip through Portland, Oregon.

Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist
Design by Chineme Elobuike for Thrillist

There is a saying in the cannabis-enjoying community that goes something like, “everything’s better with weed.” It’s true—eating cereal, listening to music, cleaning your bathroom—cannabis can elevate any activity into something a little more fun. It transforms the mundane into something special. And when you create something beautiful in the company of weed, it can feel straight magical.

When Oregon legalized cannabis, Portland artist Yvonne Perez Emerson knew she wanted to make space for that kind of magic. As she put it when I first met her back in 2018, “I had a space, a great name in mind, and the authority to say, ‘Let’s smoke weed and make shit.’ So we did.”

Now, Make & Mary workshops are a fixture in Portland’s art and cannabis communities, ranging from macrame and leather work classes to dyeing workshops and floral wreath making. Emerson will partner with a farm on goodies to consume or have attendees bring their own, allowing for people to fuel their creativity at their own pace while making.

In June of 2020, Emerson moved into a new space in Northeast Portland, where she sells her expanding house line of full-spectrum CBD-infused beauty and aromatherapeutic products and continues to host heritage craft workshops. While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely dampened the event scene, one thing is sure: Portland weed is going strong.

“What I love about Portland and its weed scene is that we are still a small, big town,” says Emerson. “People know each other, and we are always supportive. Weed is a part of the culture—people can go to a house party, a walk in the park, or a workshop where everyone is learning about natural dying, and find that weed is a very natural part of the experience. It’s just a part of Portland itself.”

To get a fresh take on how best to enjoy flower (or edibles or concentrates) in the city of roses, I asked the mother of Make & Mary herself about her favorite dispensaries, weed-centric activities, and any other suggestions for weed-fueled wandering.

“What I love about Portland and its weed scene is that we are still a small, big town.”

“My shop, of course! Our house products are focused on raising vibrations, reducing inflammation and moisturizing sensitive & aging skin. I also love and carry in our shop the complete line of Latino-founded Flor de Maria fine CBD chocolates. The packaging is beautiful. My favorite is the Ghost Pepper chocolate, not too hot but just the right amount of kick.”

While in the cozy, artful space, be sure to smell the Ritual Candle & check out the CBD-infused beauty wands—they smell botanically magical and really are quality cheek/lip color. Emerson also shouted out a CBD/CBG personal lubricant called Huile D’Amour by Glissant, a brand founded by a pelvic doctor.

Shop at Arcanna

“I love our neighborhood dispensary, Arcanna, right at the end of our block. They are just so accommodating and always have good weed.”

They also carry Retreats—my go-to tropical-flavored gummies—in a range of cannabinoid concentrations like 1:1 THC-and-CBD, 4:1 CBD-to-THC, and 10:1 CBD-to-THC. Emerson’s other recommended dispensaries include Jayne and Oregrown.

Smoke Pilot Farm Flower

“I’m a big fan of their Mountain Girl. It’s just a great high for me without being too stoney.”

You haven’t fully experienced Portland pot until you’ve tasted flower grown beneath the Southern Oregon sun. Pilot Farm is located on the side of a mountain near Ashland, the high altitudes and clean air resulting in potent, pure buds that leave an impression on locals and visitors alike.

Eat Leif Goods Edibles

“I just LOVE Leif Goods’ Marshmallow Super Bon Bons. They come in CBD or THC, and both are amazing! They are vegan and made with dark chocolate and sea salt—very yummy and a nice mellow high.”

I can attest that those chocolate-covered marshmallows are maybe the best tasting weed-infused sweets I’ve ever had. The THC line found in dispensaries goes by Leif Goods while the hemp-derived CBD line, Greater Goods, can be ordered online or found in local grocery stores.

Book an Infused Dinner with Liv Vasquez

“Liv makes really good food, and understands infusions on a whole other level.”

Events hosted by cannabis educator, chef and intuitive healer Liv Vasquez stand out from the average infused dinner experience. Sometimes she’ll compose a special terpene blend for an aromatherapeutic diffuser that will complement the flavors and the high of the strains involved in the meal; sometimes she’ll chill infused tea to make a delicious, lightly-dosed cocktail, and you’ll always leave with more knowledge around the cannabis plant and how it affects our bodies. Follow her for announcements of events, or reach out for a private booking.

Get out in nature

“Once you’ve stocked up on your favorite herb, enjoy the rest of the area’s greenery. I love heading to the Gorge. I know it’s not technically in Portland, but my favorite waterfall hike (that is not too much of a hike) is Wahkeena Falls.

If you want to stay closer in, Forest Park is a great place to go. My favorite is the Audubon Society Loop—love to visit the hawks at the Audubon Center. We usually start at the bottom parking lot and head up that way, pass the stone house and along the creek. Something a little more chill and in the city is a stroll through Tabor Park. It's perfect to bring a dog too!”

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Lauren Yoshiko is a Portland-based writer and co-host of Broccoli Magazine's podcast, Broccoli Talk. She was among the first journalists to cover the commerce and culture of cannabis starting in 2014 and her work has since appeared in Willamette WeekForbesRolling Stone, and Broccoli Magazine, among others. Follow her on Instagram at @laurenyoshiko for Portland breakfast sandwich recs, stoned nail art, and moderate cat content.