Tyler Banks of Moss CrossingPhoto by Todd Cooper

First Dance with Mary Jane

A marijuana newbie goes shopping at a local weed joint

Tyler Banks, budtender at Moss Crossing, a weed dispensary located in Eugene’s Friendly Street neighborhood, wants you to know it’s OK if you don’t know much about cannabis.

“They hire here for customer service over cannabis knowledge,” he says, adding that there’s never a stupid question at Moss Crossing.

Which is a good thing because, while I have smoked pot before, I don’t do it much, and I’ve never purchased anything at a pot dispensary.

Why? Because maybe, as a punk rock kid, I rejected marijuana as altogether too hippie. Or maybe it’s because my particular brain chemistry doesn’t seem to meld with cannabis like it does with alcohol.

Or maybe, when all’s said and done, I’ve been doing it wrong this entire time.

I ask Banks to guide me through a first-timer experience at his dispensary. He tells me the initial step he takes with any new customer is letting them know what he himself prefers to smoke.

“Is that for you? That’s for you to experiment with,” he says.

The next step, he continues, is deciding what kind of experience the customer wants to have. He presents me with a menu. On the menu are strains of marijuana called sativas, indicas and hybrids of the two.

Moss Crossing also sells CBDs or cannabidiol, a medically beneficial, less psychoactive cannabis compound used for everything from tissue inflammation to anxiety.

“I would ask what your tolerance level is,” Banks continues. “Brand-spanking new? You’re only going to need one or two hits.”

At Moss Crossing, you can purchase a pipe, or papers. You can buy a joint — already rolled up and ready to go. And the menu goes from smallest, a half-gram joint, all the way up to a 1.5-gram joint.

“That correlates with how many experiences you want to get,” Banks assures me. “You don’t have to smoke the whole thing. You can always go back and revisit it.”

I tell Banks I’m looking for an after-work, ready to unwind, happy-hour type experience. He says stick with the indicas. “If you’re prone to anxiety,” Banks says, “you might want to be careful with the sativas.”

But either way, when it comes to marijuana, Banks says it’s all about the THC — the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol, the stuff that alters your state of mind.

Banks has some beginners’ advice for those who choose to experiment with weed by smoking it.

“Dosage is number one for controlling your experience,” he says. “When you’re gauging your dosage with a joint, you’re not looking to cough. You want this, overall, to be a pleasurable experience.”

I pick out a 0.6-gram pre-rolled joint of “Critical Mass CBD” from SugarTop Buddery. The joint comes in a white, sealed-up little plastic baggy. It’s almost clinical but aesthetically just-so, in keeping with Moss Crossing’s overall vibe, which is something like a plant shop mixed with an Aveda Salon.

With all the changes in pot law, it occurs to me I’m not even sure where I can smoke my purchase. Banks says it needs to be private property. But you don’t have to just smoke weed. Moss Crossing also sells edibles, and Banks tells me there are things to look out for if you choose the edible route.

“Five milligrams of THC — it will hit you a little different than a joint,” he says. “You might feel something in about 30 minutes, maybe more. One of the main things to be careful of is that you don’t overdo it. How an edible hits you can be overwhelming, so err on the side of going light — giving it that full activation time.”

I pick a hybrid, strawberry-chocolate flavored edible from Wyld, a producer of cannabis edibles located in Clackamas. Banks assures me a nibble of this will help me relax, but I’ll still be able to go to work in the morning. It comes in a little pouch that looks something like a tea bag.

I live in a no-smoking condo, so I’m going to have to save the joint for a special occasion. I did take a tiny nosh of the edible before bed — mindful of Banks’ advice to take it slow. It tastes and looks like a little candy treat, so be careful if you have children in the house.

After that, I tried to put it out of my mind, as opposed to sitting around wondering, “Do I feel it now?” I wanted to let the feeling come to me instead of concocting it in my brain, and it did creep up on me: a warm, relaxed, clear-headed sensation — a little like wine or beer but more full-body. I slept better than I’d slept in days.

In the end, whether you choose to smoke or to eat, Banks says it’s not a competition.

“You’ve got nothing to prove,” he says. “This is your experiment. You can go at it at whatever pace you like. You’re not showing off. Don’t rush it. Pacing yourself is number one.” ■