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Vaporizers, edibles, and biologically engineered cannabis strains are the norm today. But according to scholars, the journey toward the perfection of cannabis consumption has lasted millennia. From bundles of incense and clay pipes to hand-blown glass pieces and the first ever vaporizer, humankind embarked on a long journey to get to today’s golden age of getting high.
The First Cannabis Toke in History
Ancient peoples likely discovered the psychoactive effects of cannabis by accident after casting the herb onto their campfires. From there, the natural progression was to burn it in incense form. The first documented indication of early marijuana use dates back 5,000 years to an ancient burial site in Romania, where a “smoking cup” containing burnt hemp seeds was discovered. Around the same time, cannabis was also recommended in China for maladies from malaria to menstrual cramps.
The transition from incense to pipe is relatively recent: it wasn’t until the late 15th century, when Europeans journeyed to the New World and witnessed Native Americans smoking tobacco, that pipe smoking became popular. Eventually, pipe smokers began imitating the practice of smoking tobacco using cannabis instead. The habit quickly spread through Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Smoking Marijuana in the Prohibition Era
As we move further through the annals of history, you’ll notice that the concept of marijuana as an evil drug is a fairly recent invention. The historic anomaly of marijuana prohibition began with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and reached its pinnacle with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classified cannabis as a Schedule One substance.
The Marihuana Tax Act had a huge impact on the way Americans consumed cannabis. Suddenly, smokers had to keep the practice under wraps or risk arrest for possession. This is when the spliff, a mixture of cannabis and tobacco wrapped in rolling paper, began to rise in popularity. Spliffs could easily pass for tobacco cigarettes, and they were easy to discard on the spot. Cannabis consumers continue to be conscientious today – even on the cusp of legalization – which fuels a market for vaporizers disguised as everything from car key fobs to asthma inhalers.
Glass Pipes and the 1960s Counterculture
The dawn of the 1960s brought about a cultural shift that echoed worldwide. This revolution of ideals led to widespread disregard for the moral and societal values of previous generations. The use of cannabis spread within this counterculture as individuals began to question the reasons behind the plant’s prohibition. Smoking cannabis became more than recreation: soon, it was seen as an assertion of liberty. Before long, artists, laborers and skilled craftsmen were creating better tools for indulging in this new freedom.
Enter the era of the water pipe, a modern take on an ancient device which moisture-conditioned and purified smoke via water filtration. The “godfather of glasswork,” Bob Snodgrass, began handcrafting glass pipes while tagging along on a Grateful Dead tour. Snodgrass and other glassblowers and artisans crafted these devices expressly for use with cannabis, a first since prohibition had begun. The next stage in the evolution of cannabis consumption had arrived.
Medical Use of Cannabis After Prohibition
Even as the flower power era was coming to an end, the counterculture movement had made headway on changing society’s perception of cannabis. In the 1970s, the first synthetic cannabis alternative, Marinol, was produced. A few decades later, medical and independent research on cannabis had begun to make major advancements. For the first time, growers began experimenting with the plants’ potency.
Out of this exploration, the use of concentrates such as butane hash oil (BHO) and bubble hash also grew more popular. Meanwhile, as cannabis use was refined, smokers sought a healthier alternative to the combustion methods by which cannabis was at that point most commonly consumed. The popularity of vaporizers, which heat cannabis below the point of combustion to release their cannabinoids and terpenoids for inhalation, thus began to rise.
The Era of Vaporizers for Cannabis
Today, cannabis consumption has been honed to a science. Edibles, which date back to 10th century India, have reached gourmet level, with an ever-growing array of beverages, baked goods, and even gummy bears in varying potencies. Expansive menus of lab-bred strains and extracts are available in many states. To enjoy products like cannabis flower and concentrates in a healthy way, the electronic vaporizer extracts nearly every flavor note, aroma, and cannabinoid from dry herb and wax without the harmful by-products of combustion.
The evolution of the vaporizer has been a centuries-long process, beginning with ancient hookahs, moving through such advancements as “Eagle” Bill Amato’s 1993 Shake and Bake glass-on-glass pipe all the way to the 2000 launch of the Volcano desktop vaporizer, and beyond. One of the latest, greatest devices for medical and recreational cannabis enthusiasts alike is the portable vaporizer, which has quickly become one of the most popular methods of consumption thanks to its health benefits, convenience, cost-effectiveness, and discreet nature.
Best Portable Vaporizers on the Market
Among other things, portable vapes simplify the popular practice of dabbing, which usually requires a stationary dab rig and butane torch to vaporize wax at high temperatures. Vaporizers like the Source Nail are designed specifically for vaping oily wax at high heats like a dab rig does, but unlike a standard dab rig, they can be used nearly anywhere. The Source Nail utilizes a 40W TC mod battery with a glass bubbler and globe attachments to deliver the intensity of a dab rig session in a unit that fits in your pocket. It also features precision temperature control, so users can zero in on a thermal sweet spot. The portability of vaporizers like the Source Nail is ideal for dab rig users with busy lifestyles – which accounts for the growing popularity of handheld vaporizers.
Portable wax vaporizers like the Magic Flight Muad-Dib (pronounced maw-deeb) do a lot with a little, saving money for those who use them. Miniature yet mighty, the Muad-Dib vaporizer is capable of vaporizing concentrates at an infernal 900˚F, much hotter than the majority of vaporizers out there. For such a compact unit, the Muad-Dib vape can produce intensely flavorful, lung-expanding vapor from a single drop of wax. Vaporizers like the Magic Flight Muad-Dib enable users to enjoy intense draws while conserving the contents of their wax jar. The cost-effectiveness of portable vapes like the Muad-Dib is another reason why handheld devices have exploded in popularity lately.
Smokers who want to keep their concentrate use low-key turn to wax pens. The KandyPens MINI is an example of how discreetly compact but powerful a wax pen can be. It features a 950 mAh lithium-ion battery, a deep dish chamber for larger bowls, and a ceramic coilless atomizer that heats concentrates “slow and low” to prevent combustion. The KandyPens MINI wax pen is exceptionally small, fitting in the palm of your hand.
Each of these vaporizers exemplifies the qualities that attract cannabis users to vaporization today. But how will the public consume cannabis tomorrow?
The Future of Cannabis Consumption
The future of cannabis consumption may well lie with vaporization. It is healthier, more cost-effective, and more convenient than combustion-based methods of enjoying cannabis.
Portable vapes like the Firefly 2, widely marketed as the “iPhone of vaporizers,” offer a glimpse of what’s to come on the vaporizer market. With a sleek, minimalist design, intuitive usability (featuring touch-sensor control buttons and a magnetic lid for easy loading), and advanced technology like Bluetooth compatibility for mobile app control, the Firefly 2 really does look and feel like something Steve Jobs dreamed up.
What will vaporizers look like five years from now? Based on vapes like the Firefly 2, KandyPens Mini, Muad-Dib, and Source Nail, the market is trending toward much smaller, more powerful wax pens and portable vaporizers than we’ve ever seen before.