Have weed consumption devices strayed too far from their roots? A case study
Smoking weed has come a long way since the dawn of the new millennium. Back in the day, deciding how to consume bud typically meant looking at which pipe was cleanest or who in the group could roll a decent joint.
Sitting at my desk in 2023, I am surrounded by gadgets and gizmos designed to get me high. From electronic dab rigs controlled by smartphone apps to laser bongs seemingly designed by NASA, the choices are overwhelming.
Being a weed writer means I likely have a wider assortment of devices than the average consumer. But with the popularity of products like vape carts or e-rigs like the Puffco Peak, it appears that more and more people are relying on battery-operated implements to get the job done. And while I am exceedingly impressed at the innovation happening in cannabis, is it possible that all this technology is moving us further away from the plant itself?
That’s not to say that I don’t continue to smoke bowls or Js. It’s just that the proliferation of weed tech has almost made consuming certain products more difficult (the environmental concerns are another story).
I remember an OG named Karen (known to many in the industry as “Grandma”) lamenting the increase in weed tech at an event in 2017.
“All these kids with their dab pens—I’ll never have to worry about charging up my weed. As long as I can make fire, I can medicate.”
The hash conundrum
Case in point: I recently had the honor of judging a “homegrown” solventless concentrate contest. Individuals submitted their personal use hash, most of which was rosin. This popular golden oil is easily dabbed in a glass rig or electronic device, and has become the concentrate of choice for many. But when a classic varietal entered the chat, it led to some confusion.
The expert panel’s first meeting saw most judges sitting with Puffcos (or some adjacent device). We discussed optimal temperatures for dabbing entries, the use of swabs to examine leftover oil (aka reclaim), and how we would score samples for appearance and aroma.
What we failed to cover was what we would do if something other than rosin appeared in our judge kit—and that’s precisely what happened. While most of the entries were some sort of soft badder perfect for a Puffco, a brick of old-school bubble hash confounded the panel when kits went out a week later.
“How are you going to smoke the hash?” I asked another judge.
It was a question I never thought I’d have to ask. It was a wild realization: all the modern hash tech is not designed for the OG form of the product. It simply doesn’t melt the same way as rosin or even BHO, leaving a crumbly residue within the chamber that’s difficult to remove.
In my younger days, we would put hash on top of a bowl of flower. That wasn’t an option in this case since it would alter the experience of the hash. Knife hits were also popular, but scorching butter knives was not something I was interested in doing at this point in my life.
We would have to go back to basics to enjoy this expertly made concentrate. An e-rig simply wasn’t enough. And while many consumers would have items like pipes and screens readily available 20 years ago, they’ve become obsolete in some ways today.
The whole thing got me thinking. Maybe Karen was right. Perhaps the inventions meant to make consuming cannabis more convenient have only made things more complicated. Sure, most concentrates on the American market today are perfect for e-rigs, but where does the OG product fit in?
The cutting-edge dab tech and LED-lit devices of today are definitely remarkable, yet the concept of smoking hash, the oldest concentrate in existence, remains a mystery. Maybe some things in weed need to remain in their original form—there’s not a high-tech solution for everything.