To dab or to vape: that is the question

dab or vape cannabis

Over the last five years as cannabis legalization spreads across the globe, two relatively new types of products have been on the market: vape cartridges and dabbables, also known as cannabis concentrates. This is an oil extracted from cannabis flower that is typically vaporized in a glass smoking device called a rig. 

Both of these consumption types use extracts as the main ingredient. The cartridge, however, is suited to a more on-the-go type of consumption, whereas the second involves a more complex consumption method. However, with the advent of mobile dab rigs like the Puffco, dabbing has become a lot easier than it was. 

Back in the day, traveling with a blow torch would always pose a unique set of problems, especially when flying. To begin with, you’d have to empty the torch and put a small note on it, letting your neighborhood TSA agent know it was empty. You also had to plan ahead and ensure you had a can of butane waiting for you at the hotel upon arrival. 

RELATED: Dabbing culture and the rise of concentrate consumption

Dabbing and vaping: a thinning line

What made the cartridge such a popular category was the ease of use. When the cartridge first appeared, it was often filled with CO2 or distillate-derived oils. These were drastically inferior to the live resin dabs its sister category enjoyed. Nowadays, this disparity has closed, and it’s possible to enjoy a live resin dab that has been formulated to work in a cartridge. 

When we talk of live resin, we are referring to an oil that is made using fresh frozen biomass as a starting material. The fresh frozen biomass is also solely used for the purpose of making extracts. The process involves flash freezing the fresh cannabis flowers right at harvest, ensuring that the most optimum terpene representation is preserved. As a result of this arduous process, live resin is considered a premium product and typically costs a bit more at retail. 

With the advent of all-in-one or disposable cartridges, i.e., cartridges that have batteries already attached, the ease of extract consumption has never been more accessible. Additionally, this format means that you can bring your cart just about anywhere, including some of the more taboo public spaces. 

Now that the flavor of a proper live resin dab is almost comparable in a cart vs. dabbing in a rig, the consumer truly gets the best of both worlds as they can also experience the extreme flavor of the flower in a cartridge. There are still reusable cartridge-style pens on the market that try to combine the ease of the cartridge experience with a dab, but it’s just not quite the same yet. 

Previously, in the California marketplace, several cartridge companies attempted to cross over into a more lifestyle category. Dosist is a great example. This brand developed its own hardware and would eventually be sold in the luxury department store chain Barney’s in Los Angeles.

It will be interesting to see where the future takes these two product categories. With more innovations on the tech side, the advent of even smaller portable rigs will appear, and the gap between dabbing in a rig or from a cartridge will grow closer. For those still asking whether to dab or to vape: the line continues to blur.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.

Harry Resin Harry Resin is a long-time cannabis cultivator, breeder, and writer who spent two decades in Amsterdam honing his craft. He has been featured in High Times, GQ, and several other publications.