Visiting Portland for the first time, I land at PDX and go directly to Farma. I’m an inordinately picky pot snob feeling cautiously optimistic that I may finally have found the dispensary of my dreams, and Farma does not disappoint.
This sleek boutique is open to all adults 21 and older. The ambiance evokes a fancy pharmacy, and though there’s no need for a medical recommendation, the emphasis here is therapeutic rather than recreational.
The budtenders are remarkably knowledgeable and enthusiastic, eagerly offering detailed answers to all my questions. The flower display is uncommonly informative as well, with a unique labeling system that categorizes each selection as either relaxing/calming or focusing/euphoric, with a weak, medium or strong effect, along with a separate category for CBD-rich flowers. In addition to prices and THC and CBD percentages, the labels list total terpene content and the name and location of the cultivator, and the menu includes genetics and descriptions of how the flowers were grown.
I tell my budtender I’m looking for outdoor organic flowers and he directs my attention to several options that are either Clean Green Certified or grown in organic living soil, which feeds nutrients to the plants through practices such as cover crops, complex soil recipes, ferments and compost teas. When I mention that I’m interested in terpenes, he whips out a binder and invites me to flip through comprehensive terpene profiles for every strain on the menu. In the near future, customers will be able to peruse photographs and profiles of the various farms where the flowers originated.
Farma curates cannabis according to chemotaxonomy, which requires extensive lab testing to measure 64 different compounds in every flower sample. Farma founder Jeremy Plumb explains that strain names do not reliably predict effects because plants with identical genetics produce different compounds when grown in different environments. In order to help patients reproduce consistent therapeutic benefits, Farma presents high-quality data about their flowers’ chemical content. That data is then shared with ResearchCannabis.org as part of a long-term effort to analyze patient-reported outcomes from various cannabinoids and terpene profiles. Farma is also working with Phylos Bioscience to sequence the DNA of all the flowers on their menu, and will soon be the first dispensary in the world to have these results mapped within the Phylos Galaxy, which portrays the genetic relationships between cannabis varieties.
“For us it’s about providing the maximum information so that this simple grassroots botanical medicine perspective can take hold,” Plumb says. By giving people the tools to develop “a personal and intimate relationship” with cannabis, he hopes to enable a “folk medicine revolution.”
After lingering for too long, I eventually settle on Purple Hindu Kush and Stephen Hawking Kush from Liontree Farms and Goji OG from Gnome Grown Organics, plus a pre-roll of Island Sweet Skunk from HiFi Farms, all of which prove delightful to smoke. Each comes in a plastic canister clearly labeled with the grower, cannabinoid and terpene percentages, batch number, lab test date and the name of the lab where it was tested.
It is plainly evident that these are premium flowers from conscientious producers and that Farma is a model dispensary, exceeding even the most fastidious standards and exemplifying a cutting-edge approach to modern cannabis consumption
“Our goal was always to make a bridge to the broader audience that cannabis should be serving, which is really the whole world,” says Plumb. “We are all mammals, all mammals are united by having an endocannabinoid system, and a huge amount of people stand to derive amazing benefits from cannabis.”
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