Further refinements in the inhalation of marihuanas
February 16, 2014 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Together, they resolved to invent a vaporizer of their own, one that would do for smoking what the iPod did for music. It would be the perfect meeting of form and function, a sleek, intuitive device that would make vaping “as quick as lighting up.” Why an Apple developer quit his job to help develop the Firefly, the elegant portable weed vaporizer.
posted by porn in the woods (101 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

And provides the single best argument against legalisation.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:12 PM on February 16

Thank god there aren't any tacky "420 is my identity, brah" design embellishments you see in the usual pipes and paraphernalia. This looks like something a respectable businessperson can proudly use in the comfort of his well-appointed condo without feeling like he's regressing back to high school with every hit.
posted by naju at 10:13 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

"Picture a perfect Swiss man sitting in his cubic black leather armchair, the crisp click of his lighter as he flames an unforgivingly precise jay..."
posted by Iridic at 10:21 PM on February 16 [28 favorites]

The word "vape" is up there with "moist", for me.

I don't care how much healthier it is for you than inhaling smoke.

I don't care how slick and classy these things look compared to most weed paraphernalia.


posted by Sara C. at 10:34 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]

I think dismissing the tobacco thing is a mistake. Not that the marijuana isn't potentially also a huge market, but the real brilliance here is that you're poised on two things that I think are going to be very big. There are still a lot of tobacco smokers left, but there's an increasing backlash against the process of smoking. There's a reason that tobacco and alcohol became the traditional vices--uppers and downers both have their places in people's lifestyles. Producing a product that can hit markets for both is good business sense, not just a cover-up for the fact that one is still somewhat illicit.
posted by Sequence at 10:42 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

Interesting article, when it's informative. A lot of it seems to be spent being dramatically dismissive of the people who are literally the only ones who care about these products. That seems like a weird choice to me.
posted by cmoj at 10:43 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]

A lot of it seems to be spent being dramatically dismissive of the people who are literally the only ones who care about these products.
They are walking a fine line. These devices have an 'obvious' use, but to market them that way is very clearly illegal:

In general
It is unlawful for any person—
  1. to sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia;
  2. to use the mails or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia; or
  3. to import or export drug paraphernalia.

posted by b1tr0t at 11:07 PM on February 16

I think cmoj is referring to snide sections like this:

"Five years ago, if you encountered a vaporizer, you were probably sitting in a college dorm room surrounding a clumsy, vaguely sinister-looking contraption with a motley collection of hygienically challenged dudes — alternative types, hobbyists. The kinds of kids who order mysterious packages from websites that end in .net. You probably also saw a few computer parts scattered around and maybe some Grateful Dead posters on the walls. It was a very niche audience."
posted by naju at 11:13 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


posted by Windopaene at 11:13 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

Man that volcano brings back memories.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:21 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

posted by Pudhoho at 11:25 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]

Ironically, the first prototype was an apple made into a bong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]

Urgh chrome highlights.
posted by quosimosaur at 11:28 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]

This style vaporizer seems to be everywhere in the Bay Area. They are sort of strange to see people use so it sticks out. I've see people at bars, crust punks at black metal shows, & normal suit and tie guys downtown on their lunch break with them.

Not sure what they are smoking, but I think a large part of the appeal is indoor use being tolerated.
posted by bradbane at 11:31 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

Drug-using businesspeople : rarefied geniuses
Drug-using regular people : stoner dumbfucks lol
posted by benzenedream at 11:34 PM on February 16 [49 favorites]


posted by Greg_Ace at 11:35 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

Would "vapé" work?
posted by panaceanot at 11:44 PM on February 16 [9 favorites]

OK, interesting article, but this part really bugged me:

He also discovered that working at a big company, even one as widely admired as Apple, could be deadening. “I’ll get a construction job before I fill out another TPS report,” he jokes, referring to the “testing, procedure specification” reports software developers often produce.

Uh, no, sorry, that is not what "TPS reports" is referring to in that quote.
posted by Arandia at 11:51 PM on February 16 [21 favorites]

This style vaporizer seems to be everywhere in the Bay Area. They are sort of strange to see people use so it sticks out. I've see people at bars, crust punks at black metal shows, & normal suit and tie guys downtown on their lunch break with them.

I've seen them all over the place; smoke shops sell them - and, it looks like it's starting to become a "thing" with teens. In the meantime, health warnings are beginning to appear.. One thing for sure, if these things start showing up in restaurants and on airplanes it will be unfortunate, because we don't have good knowledge of what is being exhaled into our breathing environment.

As far as the guy who quit Apple to make this thing? What a waste.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:17 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

In the meantime, health warnings are beginning to appear..

There is a difference between marijuana vaporizers and e-cigarettes. That article is referring to the, until recently, mostly unregulated cartridges people use in tobacco e-cigs that could contain any number of chemicals. People using weed in vaporizers know what they're getting, barring any adulterated weed.
posted by edeezy at 12:27 AM on February 17 [10 favorites]

I thought the Pax was the iPod of vaporizers? Man, I'm behind the times.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:40 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]

I bought an Iolite about 6 years ago. Damn thing never worked for shit.

About 6 months later, an Arizer V-Tower. Still have and use it (sort of), bloody wonderful. Customer service is excellent; proved it when I had to exchange the first unit for the LCD display going belly-up after 18 months. And the fact that they're made locally here in Ontario is just a bonus.

But these? Wouldn't mind trying them out, I suppose...
posted by northtwilight at 12:47 AM on February 17

Pudhoho: "iHuff"

posted by chavenet at 1:23 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

"Uh, no, sorry, that is not what "TPS reports" yt is referring to in that quote."

Yes, I don't think you needed to link to the scene to explain it to the rest of us.

Linette Lopez was about thirteen when Office Space was in theaters, but my considered opinion is that given a lot of the sly (some is clumsy, but some is sly) humor in the piece, I'm leaning toward her trolling her audience.

But, good lord, those two guys epitomize Silicon Valley douchebags. This is what's wrong with America today. Two tech company guys with too much money, too much leisure time, and too little imagination team up to make a flashy iPod-esque marijuana vaporizer instead of a time machine in which they travel to the recent past, impersonate themselves, and try to save a woman from her murderous boyfriend.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:46 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

I had a kid use a vaporizer in my class. That was a weird moment. Right in the front row, little puffs of vapor around her head.
posted by angrycat at 3:15 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

One thing is for sure: there's a lot of gold in them thar buds and smart businessfolks are figuring on ways to get piece of the action. It's fascinating to watch.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:16 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

bradbane: "Not sure what they are smoking, but I think a large part of the appeal is indoor use being tolerated."

They're unlawful to use indoors in King County, Washington and I wish that my coworkers would actually respect this.
posted by fireoyster at 3:18 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]

"Five years ago, if you encountered a vaporizer, you were probably sitting in a college dorm room surrounding a clumsy, vaguely sinister-looking contraption with a motley collection of hygienically challenged dudes — alternative types, hobbyists. The kinds of kids who order mysterious packages from websites that end in .net.
posted by marienbad at 3:19 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

I had a kid use a vaporizer in my class. That was a weird moment. Right in the front row, little puffs of vapor around her head.

posted by winna at 4:24 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

Urgh chrome highlights.

Yea, fuckin' seriously, Who does this look classy too? to me it looks like a cross between the mp3 player i had in highschool, a samsung galaxy s3/s4(which i think is a horrendously ugly design, made in a way that is decidedly un-design oriented), and a REALLY cheap brandless MP3 player or external laptop hdd case you'd buy at frys from a clearance rack.

NOTHING about it screams quality, or design chops, or anything. It looks cheap, and tacky. It looks like something that would cost less than $30 and ship from like alibaba. It's like a fake 2000mw laser you have to order in bulk that says "WARNUNG" on the box.

A classy looking design is something like this or this which i regularly see people using(and to be clear, to smoke cannabis extract) and think "god damn, it IS the fucking future, holy shit".

Those scream class and futuristic to me. This thing looks like a design students render or something that would fail on kickstarter.

From TFA, Williams spent years rising through the ranks at Apple designing Mac OS software.

Which yea, makes sense, obviously he wasn't one of the design guys. This is literally only news because this guy worked at apple and somehow that makes it newsworthy. There is nothing new about this product, and it's freaking ugly.
posted by emptythought at 4:24 AM on February 17 [9 favorites]

end in .net

I have encountered people who insisted that an address ending in something other than .com was NOT an Internet address[sic].....they had never seen a .gov, .edu, etc on AOL, I think
posted by thelonius at 4:46 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Big mistake not including a keychain loop.
posted by mantecol at 4:47 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]

Yea, anansi. I might have come on too strong as a haterade chugger, but the one you linked is exactly the type of thing i expected to see.

"The perfect meeting of form and function" strikes me as something more towards that angle of approaching this. It also shows how hilarious overpriced clunky stuff like the magic flight launchbox is for the price.
posted by emptythought at 4:55 AM on February 17

It's rather disconcerting to discover that the digital rump of the once-mighty PC Magazine now reviews e-cigarettes.

And if you don't like vape, you'll probably hate Vype.... Thanks to lobbying by tobacco and pharma in the EU, though, this type of electronic recreational device may become the only legally salable version sometime in the next two years.
posted by Devonian at 4:58 AM on February 17

I had a kid use a vaporizer in my class. That was a weird moment. Right in the front row, little puffs of vapor around her head.


Yeah. This person had some behavioral problems.
posted by angrycat at 5:17 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

As far as the guy who quit Apple to make this thing? What a waste.

I know! Here he is creating something for a bunch of hedonists, when he could have been designing a new kind of iPod! One that was smaller, maybe, or a different color.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:28 AM on February 17 [30 favorites]

“You couldn’t just hand it to your grandmother,” Robinson jokes.

The Grandmother Test was perhaps a high bar for what was, after all, a fancy piece of drug paraphernalia, but the partners didn’t want to settle for a workable device. Like seemingly every startup founder, they wanted to change the world.

Williams and Robinson knew they had to make something that users would fall in love with from their first puff.

I would have thought Apple developers would have a higher opinion of their users and would not be so interested in reaching a broader market, preferring instead to make high-end, expensive gear for the serious and well-heeled enthusiast.
posted by three blind mice at 5:30 AM on February 17

Vibrissae: "As far as the guy who quit Apple to make this thing? What a waste."

Not everyone wants to work for Apple, or the tech industry in general, although it's common to discover this sometime after embarking on that career path. I know I'd rather dig ditches than go back to that world. However, I can't honestly claim that a career working for a Silicon Valley tech company would be any more fulfilling than becoming an entrepreneur, at least when I'm talking about other people, because what makes me happy isn't necessarily relevant to other people's lives and choices.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:35 AM on February 17 [6 favorites]

Since the article coyly fails to do so, can somebody summarize what it is like to smoke marijuana through a vaporiser, how it is done and what the state of play of the technology and device market is?
posted by rongorongo at 5:48 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

I guess these are OK. I don't like the design much, but I like to see competition and innovation. We do have much better choices for vaporizers than just a few years ago. I am very happy with my Solo Arizer, which isn't as small or discreet as the Pax or this new vaporizer, or any of the pens, but it's also portable. At this point I'm more interested in trying to build my own than buy another, but it would be nice to see prices drop a little.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:52 AM on February 17

Five years ago, if you encountered a vaporizer, you were probably sitting in a college dorm room surrounding a clumsy, vaguely sinister-looking contraption with a motley collection of hygienically challenged dudes — alternative types, hobbyists. The kinds of kids who order mysterious packages from websites that end in .net. You probably also saw a few computer parts scattered around and maybe some Grateful Dead posters on the walls. It was a very niche audience."

Hobbyists? Who the hell doesn't have a hobby?
posted by srboisvert at 5:57 AM on February 17

Review. The logo is clever I think. (I am easily impressed to be fair.) I'm very much raging that it's not available in the UK. Stupid American voltage requirements...
posted by billiebee at 6:02 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

rongorongo: "Since the article coyly fails to do so, can somebody summarize what it is like to smoke marijuana through a vaporiser, how it is done and what the state of play of the technology and device market is?"

You heat the marijuana through convection or conduction to around 350-400F (I stick to around 375), and inhale the vapor. That's it. There are more elaborate ways to go about doing this, but there's really nothing else to it. Different active chemicals (THC, CBD, CBN) vaporize at different temps, so you can control what you're vaporizing and the type of effect it has, depending on the type of weed you have. Bad weed isn't going to be good with a vaporizer, but it makes decent weed better, especially the flavor.

The first person I knew who had one was my uncle, who got a Volcano for chemo treatments. He already smoked weed, but he had throat cancer (from cigarettes), and the vaporizer was recommended by his oncologist. This was maybe five years back, and there wasn't much else back then except logs and nails. These days, the market is pretty active, both with vaporizer technology and glass (for filtering with water). A friend was driving through on a road trip and showed me his new Pax last year, and that is when I decided it was time to get one of my own. I like my Solo Arizer, which is a simple device, but the way it's designed allows for both convection and conduction, and the stem is glass. I learned a lot about what people were using and how they worked through - I am in no way affiliated with that site, btw, but I found it valuable for reading about many first-person experiences with these products before making a decision on what to buy for myself.

I still smoke sometimes, but I don't miss it much. It's obvious right away how much better vaporizing is for your lungs, and I tend to prefer the effects over smoking. More efficient, too, so you don't blow through as much weed. I see people making fun of it and that sort of thing, and that's bound to happen, though I don't use it in public buildings, but I can't imagine anyone believing that smoking is healthier or generally preferable to vaporizing. It's a big step in the right direction, IMO, and besides the good stuff tastes so much better.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:09 AM on February 17 [8 favorites]

Firefly? I can see the ads now: "Firefly, a great way to get your weed on."
posted by yoink at 6:34 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Jesus christ, the whole they market this 4 tobacco, but sum say u coulllllllllllllllld use it 2 smoke certain herbal marijuana weedz..if u felt "so inclined" ; ) ; ) ; ) thing twelve times over the course of the article makes me want to stab my eyes out. It's 2014; is Business Insider writing for fucking adults or not?
posted by threeants at 6:38 AM on February 17 [9 favorites]

swear to god, i thought this was all about an super-innovative gardening tool
posted by bitteroldman at 6:42 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]

The market for this is huge. Otherwise respectable citizens with busy lives, maybe you've been to Burning Man a couple times, you have fond fond memories of being a pothead in your youth, but now you've got kids and you just haven't maintained the social connections that make marihuana easily obtainable. You are concerned about the health risks of smoking and you would prefer to obtain your marijuana in a safe, convenient manner. Or so I imagine the target population of these devices might be thinking.

C'mon Washington, I voted for this thing a year ago now...
posted by Random Person at 6:49 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

The price point seems a bit off to me. Decent eCig starter kits (for use with e-liquids) are running around $85 now. Seems like a slickly put-together product, but the price tag puts it out of reach of a lot of potential customers.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:52 AM on February 17

Hobbyists? Who the hell doesn't have a hobby?

Lots of people if you don't count just consuming media.

Also, to extend my previous comment, I don't care if these things aren't carcinogenic. I don't want it in the air I breathe in class or at work. I have to deal with other air pollutants as it is.
posted by winna at 7:00 AM on February 17

It's 2014; is Business Insider writing for fucking adults or not?

They report. You decide.
posted by Devonian at 7:07 AM on February 17

is Business Insider writing for fucking adults or not?

Business Insider was never writing for fucking adults. It's buzzfeed with a slightly more dignified name. Henry Blodget, remember?

Henry Blodget, a Yale graduate who previously worked on Wall Street, then was fined $2,000,000 as part of a civil suit for fraud, and another $2,000,000 in disgorgement, and being censured and barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief.
posted by ook at 7:14 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

calls The Volcano “the Mercedes G Wagon of vaporizers.”

The Firefly, on the other hand, is more like a Tesla. It’s a high-end luxury product — one aimed at consumers making upward of $75,000 a year. Retailing for $269, it would take months of grocery bagging to afford one.

from what i could find, the volcano is around either $500+ or $650+ depending on the model. firefly is on the high side for portable vapes, but the Pax mentioned in the article is $250, so they're in the same neighborhood. i have no idea what the comparison to tesla is bc the firefly is in no way a gamechanger the way tesla is.

the things that most annoy me about vaporizers is dealing with an energy source, and cleaning. if you have to plug it in you're limited to a wall socket or car cigarette outlet. if you're using a battery then it will eventually hold less charge, and any time it dies out you're SOL unless you have a wall plug and the device allows you to use it while it is charging. also, most devices don't seem to have replaceable batteries so what happens after the battery dies, you get a new device or crack it open like macguyver and hope you don't break it?

in terms of cleaning, yes with glass pieces you need to do some maintenance if you want a clean hit, but if you're a dirty motherfucker, having a dirty piece doesn't keep you from smoking. with vapes, buildup residue makes the vaping less efficient, and in the long term can break the device, especially if the chamber is built into the vape rather than a replaceable part that you can switch out.

also the upfront cost-- $3 for a lighter and some papers vs $100 for a low-end thing that won't break immediately. there is something ridiculously simple about smoking that vaporizers don't really have yet and i'd be interested in a device that mitigates those issues.

also also, the chamber in the firefly looks really small. anything with a small chamber is a headache to use with more than one person bc you are constantly reloading it, while being increasingly high.

much better on your throat the next day though. it's hard going back to smoking if you primarily vape, feels like you were smoking cigars the night bf.
posted by twist my arm at 7:26 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

The Pax Ploom is already the iPod of vaporizers, folks. I don't anyone who has one who doesn't love it. Not that I would know.
posted by spitbull at 7:33 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

It would be the perfect meeting of form and function, a sleek, intuitive device that would make vaping “as quick as lighting up.”

This already exists and it's called the Magic Flight Launch Box. It consists of, I think, five parts in total. It's the goddamn AK-47 of vaporizers.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:33 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

Gizmodo reviews the Pax Ploom.

Gizmodo reviews the Magic Launch Box. (LOL they conclude you might as well just whittle one yourself!).
posted by spitbull at 7:36 AM on February 17

twist my arm: "also, most devices don't seem to have replaceable batteries so what happens after the battery dies, you get a new device or crack it open like macguyver and hope you don't break it?"

Yes, but many of these devices have been hacked. The Solo in particular will accept a battery that's the exact same size but carries more charge, so it will last longer. Replacing it requires some rudimentary electronics, which more than a few people are doing as a cottage industry now in case you don't want to do it yourself.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:41 AM on February 17

e-Cigs are nearly ubiq in the Paris office I'm in, and people take some license with a puff now and a again inside. It's not as gross as smelling or being around a cigarette, but it's still gross.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:42 AM on February 17

e-Cigs are nearly ubiq in the Paris office I'm in

oh my gosh I know it's probably not, but "ubiq" sounds like it would be perfect French slang. bahhh ça c'est complètement ubiq, quoi!
posted by threeants at 7:48 AM on February 17 [14 favorites]

Stuck with me from the PKD novel, never rubbed off.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:50 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

I don't anyone who has one who doesn't love it.

I will be the lone voice who says that the Pax sucks. I had several problems with mine and had to send it back to them twice, and in the end was basically told "sorry, live with it". I'm not going to write a review, but I think their design is flawed and prone to failure. After six months it is unusable and won't even stay turned on, even after extensive cleaning and maintenance. For the price and the "iPod of vaporizers" reputation, I hoped for more.

On the other hand, the Airizer Solo that krinklyfig mentions is about the same size and price, rugged and easy to clean with no moving parts, and will allow you to have a lot more control over the temperature.
posted by dhalgren at 7:53 AM on February 17

This thing looks like all the Windows-oriented mp3 players that came out after the iPod, trying to get some of that market but just looking tacky and terrible with their little chrome embellishments and primary colors.
posted by davejay at 8:04 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]

It kind of looks like keyless entry for a fake car.
posted by threeants at 8:24 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

Right now I have a big glass bong sitting on my desk. Clear glass, no leaves or Bob Marleys or evil clowns on it, just the name of the glassworks that made it in black script. I love it, I'll often throw a few drops of food coloring into the water to give it a bit of extra festiveness in my very white studio.

I keep on thinking about moving my marijuana consumption to one of these new little vapes. But if I'm gonna be sucking on a little handheld gizmo I want it to look good. And I can never seem to find one that has anything like the aesthetics I want. I want to have something long-stemmed and sleek that a fashionista would gesture with, not a dumpy little rounded podular thing or a chunky contraption of steel tubing.

I guess I'm basically waiting for the e-cig designed by a woman.

(Seattleite, I can be open about this stuff. Yay!)
posted by egypturnash at 8:44 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

Eh, I think the Gizmodo review of the MFLB was concentrating a bit much on the aesthetics, which I guess is Gizmodo's thing; they seem to have a real fascination with Appleesque plastic boxes with round corners and blue LEDs and stuff. I think it's a pretty neat piece of engineering though. It has a heavily optimized, functionalist design (with concessions towards CNC manufacturing in a high-labor-cost environment), minimal parts count, is basically indestructible, and has nothing in it to wear out. It does one thing and does it well* and you will probably never need to buy another product like it again for the rest of your life.

The Pax Bloom, which they seem to be gaga over, looks cool but has a non-replaceable battery. And it's expensive. And made of plastic. In China. It's basically just another shiny, high-margin, planned-obsolescence consumer product destined to eventually become so much e-waste.

I know I shouldn't expect much more from Gizmodo but those two reviews -- not the conclusions per se but the superficiality of the reasoning leading to the conclusions -- encapsulate everything that's wrong with "gadget culture." (Or maybe they're actually deep-cover remnants of the Weather Underground and I'm just missing the subtle satire of end-stage capitalism.) Ugh.

* So I hear. From, uh, friends.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:20 AM on February 17 [12 favorites]

The price of this thing is weird. As mentioned above, affordable pocket vaporizers like this have been available for a few years now. This doesn't seem to offer much over those - I've used an MFLB and I can't really imagine wanting anything fancier. It does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin (also: it comes in a tin). At the very least it seems kind of odd to have this kind of hyperbolic, glowing piece without better establishing the current state of the marketplace.
posted by Corinth at 9:36 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

"In the meantime, health warnings are beginning to appear."

The 2009 FDA study referenced in that article found trace levels (1%) of diethylene glycol in 1 out of 18 cartridges from just two brands of electronic cigarettes. Not one study since then has found the chemical in any cartridges or liquids, suggesting that the device in question may have been contaminated.

The FDA themselves indicated at the time that this was merely a preliminary analysis and that “due to the variability among products, this analysis should not be used to draw conclusions about what substances are or are not present in particular electronic cigarettes or brands of electronic cigarettes.”

FDA also failed to note that the trace levels of tobacco specific nitrosamines found were merely fractions of what is found in cigarette smoke and actually on par with levels of such impurities found in FDA-approved NRT products.
posted by walrus at 9:49 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

E-cigarettes already have this market covered. They come in a million different variations, have standardized parts, and you can spend anything from $30 for a perfectly decent one to, well, pretty much as much as you want. They're discrete because they're already quite common and people expect them to have nicotine in them, not THC. (One of the most common user demographics for e-cigarettes is in fact police.) However, standard e-liquid carrier fluids (propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin) will dissolve THC readily and you can also vape (yes it's a lame word) straight hash oil from them although it'll clog up your gear a lot faster.

Most are pocket-sized and will provide hours of heavy use from a single battery. They produce little marijuana scent and what they do produced can be masked by other flavors in the liquid (of which there are hundreds to suit any taste). The sensation of puffing on them is extremely smooth, and it's easy to titrate your dosage as individual puffs aren't particularly potent (modulo the concentration of your fluid).

I'm amazed that everybody doesn't already know about this, to be honest. It's pretty much a revolution as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Scientist at 10:22 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]

The difference I guess is that pocket marijuana vaporizers are meant to work with bud or thick, sticky hash oil that's more like paste whereas e-cigarettes are meant to work with a PG/VG carrier fluid or, in a pinch, a thinner and less-viscous oil. To use an e-cigarette with THC one ideally needs to either cook the marijuana in hot e-liquid as if one were making weed butter, or dissolve some hash oil into the e-liquid. That's an extra step, but it's an easy preparation to do and yields something which in my opinion performs better than marijuana vaporizers.
posted by Scientist at 10:26 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't want to be vaping anything oil-based personally. Lungs aren't really designed to deal with oils.

I do know exactly what's in my e-cigarette, because I make it myself using pharmaceutical quality propylene glycol and nicotine, with GRAS flavours. None of the ingredients are considered unsafe to inhale.

If you do buy commercial "ejuice" though, here are a couple of much more recent and thorough risk analyses:

Here's a study on the "passive" effects of ecigarette vapour:

None of the above has much to do with the vapourisation of marijuana, just correcting some misperceptions and propaganda about e-cigarettes, which appear to have been conflated with dry herb vapourisation by many repondents in this thread.
posted by walrus at 10:44 AM on February 17 [4 favorites]

That's an extra step, but it's an easy preparation to do

Breaking Bad meets Cheech and Chong.

I would totally watch that, incidentally.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

Just get a mflb and a pa 2.0 and be done with the whole debate.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:55 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

Firefly? I can see the ads now: "Firefly, a great way to get your weed on."

Take my love, take my land
Vape me 'til I cannot stand
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:58 AM on February 17 [14 favorites]

"Just get a mflb and a pa 2.0 and be done with the whole debate."

I did just that a few months ago, and life's never been better. Personally, I'd rather have a rugged little wooden box like the MFLB than something plastic and metal like the Firefly, which seems to have been designed to mimic the $99 SkyMall-brand "retro" kitchen clock radio favored guessed it, my Grandmother.
posted by still bill at 11:04 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

The guys even went as have electron microscopy photos taken to see what was happening to the coil inside the Firefly’s chamber.
Editor please, even went as have, so far as to.
posted by unliteral at 11:15 AM on February 17

This was the bit that got me:
“I would argue that the reason it’s happening now,” Monsees says of high-end vaporizer culture, “is that we’re getting precious about a lot of things. We have the luxury to be picky and be precious about a lot of things — to know what we want.”
As we crawl out of the Great Recession, facing environmental disaster on a scale unprecedented in the history of human civilisation, while the far-right rises in Europe and war threatens to spill across the Middle East, this spineless, witless bag of vomit, after accomplishing all he ever wished to at the age of 29, surveys the world and ponders. And the conclusion he reaches is that his time and money are best spent developing and marketing a piece of novelty tat, because, in his opinion, we have the luxury to be picky.

Sometimes I fear we're fucking doomed.
posted by howfar at 11:22 AM on February 17 [6 favorites]

E cigs and finding good juice has probably saved my life. My juice is made in a ISO 9001 certified lab. Every bottle has a tracking number and anticounterfeiting devices.

I never thought I would stop burning tobacco. I can bike up Denny here in Seattle, now, which is like 500+ feet of climb in about a mile. It is crazy steep.

People have a right to be concerned about second hand vapor, but there's a lot of false information and FUD about it. You're exposed to more artificial flavorings and chemicals in a jolly rancher or stick of gum. Ora bathroom aerosol air freshner. Or basically any common cleaning product. Or deoderant. Or even your shampoo or soap. Even though you don't vaporize some of those things, you ingest them through skin contact ormany other vectors.

But you should honestly be more worried about aerosolized air freshners and deoderants. These are even crazier cocktails of chemicals, and they aren't really regulated or tested as rigorously as a good ecig juice. (Andcigarettes are totally unregulated and contain thousands of chemicals and byproducts.)

I go outside with the smokers because it's just polite. Though many friends don't mind at all if I vape inside when I visit. I have one flavor that tasted and smells like waffles in syrup, and people actually like it.

Heck, I was walking around with some very close friends and one of them absolutely hated how I used to smell as a smoker. I was using a hot cinnamon flavor and she turned to me and said "is that you that smells so good?" and it felt really nice.

Also, e cigs are cheaper than dry herb vaporizers because they are totally different technologies. You can't reallyuse an ecig battery for dry herb vaporizing because they're not powerful enough, and the batteries have timers to prevent overheating. Dry herb vaporizers need more power and duration.

They are not the same thing. The only real similarity is that they use batteries.

I can't afford to smoke cannabis right now, logistically or financially, but eventually I'll get some kind of vaporizer. After quitting smoking, burning cannabis just feels gross, and I can totally taste butane now.

And I like saying vape. Vape. Vape. Vape.
posted by loquacious at 11:45 AM on February 17 [6 favorites]

“I would argue that the reason it’s happening now,” Monsees says of high-end vaporizer culture, “is that we’re getting precious about a lot of things. We have the luxury to be picky and be precious about a lot of things — to know what we want.”
The thing I find kind of weird about this quote -- and this is going to seem silly compared to howfar's critique -- is that, well, nothing about vaporizer culture (at least within tobacco circles, not familiar enough with the weed side) really hits the right notes within the current zeitgeist for connoisseurship. It's all about commodified products to put in your little portable sippy cup that looks like a halfassed garage door opener and comes in "flavors" and is about as far as one can get from having an authentic or straightforward tobacco consuming experience. Even the language around it sounds weirdly out of step with the sorts of sensory experiences that we now expect to be a little bit "precious" due to the luxury of choice.

I totally get people who smoke pipes and cigars, or hand-roll cigarettes with obscure brands of loose tobacco. There's something sort of honest about it. It's connected to tradition and quality and the things that get lost in 21st century late-capitalist consumer culture.

But vaporizing? It seems like it takes everything stupid about using tobacco and tries to enshrine it somehow. My only hope is that teenagers will realize how stupid it looks, and this will finally be the straw that breaks big tobacco's back.
posted by Sara C. at 12:02 PM on February 17

If anything finally "breaks big tobacco's back" it will be the availability of inhalable nicotine in a much safer and more satisfying form.
posted by walrus at 12:23 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]

When you've finished your smoke, blow in it to summon hilarious-looking ducks.
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:30 PM on February 17

I was going to suggest that you could have a pretty sweet 'hyperlocal organic vegan fair-trade artisanal smoking experience', if you wanted to, with a dry herb vaporizer loaded with locally-grown tobacco, but then I looked up the numbers and found what I think the problem is: nicotine has a much higher boiling point (WP says 477F) than THC (315F) so unless you extract it into solution you are getting well up into the temperatures necessary to vaporize a lot of other nasty stuff out of the tobacco and push it close to its combustion point. So it might not be different enough from smoking vs just using a pipe, which does have the benefit of being a lot more traditional.

I guess you'd really need to do some home distilling if you wanted to bring the whole e-cig supply chain in-house and "artisinalize" it. I'm sure, somewhere in Brooklyn, someone is working on that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:31 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]

It already exists. There are a few ecig juice companies making organically flavored juices using organic tobacco and all vegetable glycerin blends. My local brick and mortar shop is going to start carrying some of it soon.
posted by loquacious at 12:52 PM on February 17

Sara c, you basically have zero knowledge about what you're talking about. My local shop of choice is a clean, well lit place that isn't a head shop or smoke shop. All they carry is vape juice and supplies. They have something like 50 flavors, and some of them are quite complex. We just had a meetup and hangour to share tips and flavors. People custom blend flavors and come up with surprising combinations.

It is every bit as refined an experience as making candy. Most of the companies are using natural or artificial candy flavorings in their juice. The same flavorings you can get from companies like Lorann that people useto make things like "gourmet" lollipops or hard candies. The same flavorings that pastry and dessert chefs use for spun sugar or sugar glass or other confections.

I was a handroll smoker of the type you are describing. I tended to smoke euro style shag blends to the tune of 20-40 cigs a day and it was killing me and my wallet. I thought I loved the taste.

Turns out I was just addicted to nicotine. I've had less than 2 cigs in almost 5 months, and I just wanted to see if I could still roll a cig. It tasted fucking disgusting, like a burning cow patty. And this was good tobacco, not a pack of Top or something.

My favorite juice right now is called french pipe tobacco. It is slightly sweet and tastes about as complex as a cup of coffee, and tastes way better than any tobacco I've burned. And its cheaper, and way, way less dangerous and unhealthy.

Know what looks really stupid? Putting burning paper and plant matter in your face and inhaling it. Smoking looks bizarre to me, now. When I see it in film and tv or in person it just looks totally weird and stupid.
posted by loquacious at 1:10 PM on February 17 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I was a smoker for 25 years, and smoked pipes, hand-rolled and enjoyed the odd cigar during that time. Since switching over a year ago, I make my own recipes to my own taste and I now find the smell or taste of tobacco smoke frankly quite disgusting by comparison.

In the last week, I've made one flavour using licorice, blackcurrant and star anise, another using Sicilian lemon and violet, and another using cocoa, banana and candy floss. A nice side effect of vaping for me is that I've also hugely cut down my consumption of sweets and cakes!

If I did consume marijuana, I can totally see the point of vaporising it as a healthier choice, but I'm far from agreeing that a healthier choice means a poorer experience.
posted by walrus at 1:25 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the healthiest choice is to not smoke or vape, and the first question the owner of my local vape shop asks new vapers is if they are are currently a smoker.

If they say "no" he tries to strongly dissuade them from starting vaping nicotine. If they persist he steers them to the 0 nicotine juices.

The whole point of him starting the shop is to help smokers stop smoking through harm reduction. There's a lot of conflicting information and bad product out there, and switching from smoking to vaping tends to only succeed if you have good equipment and juice, and finding a flavor you actually like more than your regular choice of tobacco.

Another benefit to vaping is you can adjust your nicotine levels down in tiny increments. Every ex smoker I know starts high, like 24mg/ml nicotine, and then starts tapering off.

I also vape less than I used to smoke. Instead of waking up with coffee and a string of cigs I wake up with breakfast now. I can go hours without my first puff of the day, or between puffs.

I can self-titrate, too. Instead of burning a whole cig or wasting most of it I can have just a puff or two and go about my business in 15 seconds instead of 10-15 minutes. My friends don't have to wait for me to finish a cig, either. If I'm at a show or coffeeshop, steppinf outside for a smoke takes a minute instead of 10.

When I tried nicotine replacement therapy before I could wear two patches and chew gum, and I would still be freaking out. The transition period between cigs and vaping for me was less than one day, and mostly painless outside of starting off with dodgy equipment and juice.

This technology is going to save lives. It is real harm reduction.

If anyone wants help quitting "analog" cigarettes, msg me. I'll hook you up.
posted by loquacious at 1:44 PM on February 17 [9 favorites]

This might be controversial, but I would much rather someone started vaping nicotine than smoking tobacco.

If we look at smoking rates there seems to be a hard core of one in five people who become addicted to nicotine, and the reduction in smoking rates has completely tailed off in the last five years or so. NRT doesn't work for 95% of people who try it. If we are to cut down the harm from smoking for that 20% of the population who like to augment the natural nicotine levels they get from their diet (because nicotine is a natural and necessary part of our diet) then we need to find ways for them to do that in a safer way that doesn't include consuming over 4000 chemicals in a toxic mix which includes tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, cyanide, carcinogenic alkaloids, etc.

E-cigarettes could quite simply save millions of lives. That an interruptive technology like this could be strangled at birth under the influence of pharmaceutical and tobacco lobbies who fear an impact on their profits is a terrible injustice.
posted by walrus at 1:52 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]

Instead of burning a whole cig or wasting most of it I can have just a puff or two and go about my business in 15 seconds instead of 10-15 minutes.

I was just talking about this today with someone at work, how when you go for a smoke break you smoke the whole cigarette because that's just what you do. You're not going the whole way outside just to take one puff. But with ecigs you can just have a wee one now and then when you feel like it, rather than "I am committed to having this whole thing for however long it takes me to smoke it."
posted by billiebee at 1:55 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]

Seconding all of Loquacious' points above. I've recently (4 weeks now, I think) entirely replaced my smoking with vaporizing. As I mentioned, I strictly use my MFLB for THC, which removes a high amount of smoked material from my life; daily imbiber for 20-ish years, burning through about .25oz a week (down to roughly a third of that with the MFLB). I also replaced my cigarettes with a V2 ecig and some nice juices (currently enjoying a black tea blend that tastes so much like tea I can take a puff instead of my normal afternoon cup, in a pinch). I was a 2 pack a day smoker for about 20 years, and never had been able to quit for more than a couple weeks, even using everything available (tried patches, gum, inhalers, chantix, cold turkey, Allan Carr, etc.). With the ecig, I had absolutely zero difficulty switching; I just woke up one day and started using it instead of smoking, and it scratched all the right itches. I credit it with giving me something I'd wanted and needed for the entire 19 years since I smoked my first cigarette, which is a cleaner and more healthy way to address the addiction.

Between the ecig and MFLB, I'm sold. I don't stink anymore (like pot or tobacco!), my lungs feel more and more like new every day, I save money, I have exponentially improved my endurance on the bike and in the bedroom, and those are all benefits I've already seen in just a handful of weeks. And, I like that I can support some decent companies (Magic Flight is one of the best companies I've ever dealt with in any capacity, despite the sometimes-funny stoner babble they engage in at times, and V2 is great, albeit a bit slow to ship products) instead of big tobacco.

Hopefully, a brick and mortar ecig outfitter like the one Loquacious mentions opens around here someday soon. I desperately want some organic and responsibly produced/traded juice. If anyone has places on the web that can supply me, I'd be all ears.

So yeah, count me in with the "this may well save my life" crowd.
posted by still bill at 2:16 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]

I'm curious why so many people think it's a horrid waste to reduce the harm linked to a drug that is likely about to be legalized and why they would think this is an argument against legalization. While the strongest data *does not* link marijuana smoking to lung cancer, a device that makes it even easier on the lungs is surely a good idea if it can be shown to do what it claims.

Indeed, the reason this stuff has to be developed with this silly wink wink nod nod is prohibition— and the reason we don't have good harm reduction for many drugs is prohibition.

The "iron law of prohibition" states that it tends to create stronger, more addictive, more intense highs because smaller drugs are easier to smuggle and more intense, often, but not always, is more addictive. This is why we got crack, for example. The opposite is true in a legal market where regulators can define the levels of substances involved and regulate the players to study what they are doing so that harm is actually reduced, not just presumed to be reduced. Of course, this requires regulators to have some balls and some real power over the industries they regulate— but that's not an inherent problem with legalization, it's an inherent problem with the ideology that says less regulation is always better.
posted by Maias at 4:00 PM on February 17 [12 favorites]

loquacious: is that Coumarin flavored liquid you're vaping? That's what I have, and I agree, what a great flavor. Normally a sweet flavor can be readily described as "sweet" tasting, but Coumarin is more of a complex musky something with a pleasant sweetness blended in.
posted by Taft at 4:07 PM on February 17

Ironically, the first prototype was an apple made into a bong.


What seems unnatural to me (not that inhaling smoke of any kind is natural, understand) is the marriage of high-tech to what is essentially a low-tech past time. Hookahs and clay-pipes are imbued with a languid dignity, are suitable for quiet social pleasures with quiet like minded people. These things, all batteries and exotic alloys - they're just too intense.
posted by BWA at 4:52 PM on February 17

BWA, that's part of the allure of the previously mentioned MFLB. It's made of wood, the sensation of using the battery is quite tactile and analog, it has an adorkably stonerific inscription, the makers have a very generous replacement policy, and they include a nice handwritten note in the package. That particular vaporizer is very firmly rooted in cannabis culture, such as it is. It feels a lot more like a classical one-hitter than a gadget from the Brookstone catalog. This thing, though - yeah. I get the same vibe from it as you do.
posted by Corinth at 8:52 PM on February 17

I saw a firefly today, and goodness that thing is fugly. It does totally look like a cheap Brookstone gadget. I half expected it to have a laser pointer, led flashlight, voice memo recorder and bottle opener glommed on to it.

Taft: No idea, honestly. Even the more reputable juice makers don't usually list the recipe/blend of flavorings. Probably to protect their recipies.
posted by loquacious at 12:31 AM on February 18

spitbull: "Gizmodo reviews the Pax Ploom. "

Which says: The lithium-ion battery lasts about for about a day of normal usage, or roughly three hours of continuous operation on the highest heat setting

So, apparently a normal day for the reviewer involves three hours of sustained inhalation of marijuana vapor at Olympic levels of intensity. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by exogenous at 3:13 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]

That makes so many of the drama sagas of gizmodo make so much more sense.

They aren't just geeks, they were geeked.

it's a pity too, the only nerdy thing i ever did when i was that blazed was play this game, modded so the cars would fly once you hit a certain speed, with a force feedback wheel i found in a free bin. They had to go and make a bunch of bullshit up and end up in court repeatedly. It's like chill out maaaaaaan.
posted by emptythought at 4:00 AM on February 19

"I'm Going To Prison For Working At A Pot Shop That Was Legal In My State"

It's interesting that people don't understand what nullification is and how state legalization of recreational marijuana isn't nullification and doesn't and cannot and, crucially, should not shield anyone from federal prosecution. If it could, then state laws that directly oppose federal laws like civil rights laws or gun laws could also be legal. And they are not and shouldn't be. (Although there's a whole bunch of wingnuts, especially in Kansas, who keep imagining that nullification is possible and not a settled issue as far as the SCOTUS is concerned.)

The feds can decide to not enforce its own laws, where and when it chooses. This administration (which might not be the policy of the next administration) has decided to not enforce, by default, federal laws against marijuana in these states that have legalized it. That's been the policy with medical marijuana, too. But, crucially, the federal government has always said that it will enforce those laws in specific cases where it has determined that there's a problem. So if a medical marijuana dispensary is being too loose or otherwise pushing the limits, the feds can and will sweep in an arrest and charge and prosecute people. State legalization doesn't prevent this, and it shouldn't be able to prevent this.

Okay, so as marijuana liberalization sweeps the US, the obvious solution to this is for the feds to decide to universally not enforce these laws or, much better, for Congress to eliminate the federal criminalization of marijuana.

Except there's a big problem with both of those two choices. The US government is in a bit of a bind of its own making about this.

And the problem is that the US is a party to two interrelated international treaties that involve the enforcement of illegal narcotics and, specifically, the criminalized scheduled status of marijuana. Something like every country in the world excepting two or three are signatories to these treaties. And one of these treaties has as a key component that marijuana is, by national law, scheduled at the highest level of criminalized narcotic, that of those drugs with no recognized medical usage and requiring stringent enforcement against its production, distribution, and use.

The reason that this is partly the US's own predicament, is that back in the day this requirement was included into this treaty at the insistence of the US.

There are big penalties for countries that are not in compliance with this treaty, and any national law that allows for any legal use of marijuana is automatically not in compliance.

The Netherlands, for example, has never legalized marijuana use. All it has ever done is to not enforce the laws against it. And even then it's been very careful to keep that use within certain boundaries so as to not be seen as being de facto out-of-compliance with things that would really upset other signatories, like with trafficking, criminal connections, and underage use and such.

Notice that these are the same things that the US government has said it is concerned about with state legalization.

There is one country that's a signatory that has nationally legalized marijuana, and that's Uruguay, and only last year. There's a lot of concern about what this might mean for Uruguay, actually.

So the US government has a problem with this. It can't nationally legalize marijuana without becoming noncompliant with the one overriding international treaty/law governing narcotics. Being noncompliant with this treaty would be a big deal. It can look the other way, sort of, with smaller-scale decriminalization of marijuana within smaller jurisdictions contained within itself. But only insofar as that doesn't de facto become decriminalization on the national level. Therefore, to the degree to which state and local jurisdictions fail to keep marijuana use within the boundaries that the federal government requires or the degree to which more states legalize marijuana, is the degree to which the US is at risk of being noncompliant with this treaty.

There's no easy or unilateral answer to this. The US government leaving that treaty can't and won't happen, because it's the treaty that controls the whole international narcotic trafficking law enforcement structure. The US government can't just be noncompliant without penalty, because that invites lots of smaller states to be noncompliant without penalty about dangerous narcotics, for example. In the longer term, the only real solution is for the entire international regime to re-evaluate marijuana and alter that treaty to reflect a different status.

Will that happen? I guess the answer to that question hinges upon whether you think that the US is at the forefront or fringes or entirely idiosyncratic with regard to marijuana legalization. Even if it's at the forefront, though, this isn't something that can be changed quickly. We're talking many years. So this uneasy status quo, where we'll probably have spreading state legalization while the federal government can, and sometimes will, arrest and prosecute activity that is legal within some given local jurisdiction, will continue. Even though it seems crazy and unfair.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:54 AM on March 5

I had a look at the Firefly last week. It seems really bulky and oversized; not something that would fit discreetly into a jacket pocket. Looks like a extra blinged-out kazoo. Pass.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:13 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

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