As cannabis legalization increases across the country (and really, across the globe at large) the industry is expanding rapidly. Cannabis is recreationally legal in eighteen states and Washington DC. It’s decriminalized in another twelve, and legal for medical reasons in dozens, so it’s no surprise that business is booming.
Further legalization and normalization of cannabis consumption means there’s a bigger demand for products. And not just more of the same old stuff, either. There’s a market for new users just as much as there is for veteran consumers. All types of users means all types of desired effects and methods of consumption.
And as with any industry that’s ramping up, you get big technological advances. In the cannabis industry, it’s hard to deny that one of the most impactful new technologies has been vaporizers. Vaporizers are handheld and create little to no lingering odor, which makes them incredibly convenient for traveling and discretionary dosing.
A vaporizer is a battery that heats THC or CBD oil that’s been extracted from the plant’s resin glands. The oil is placed in a cartridge that has a mouthpiece. Vaporizers come in all shapes, but their size tends to be more compact than that of their cousins, the e-cig. The laws regulating e-cigs and cannabis vaping are also wildly different at a federal level.
Batteries are most commonly slim and pen-shaped. They might also come in a shape that’s less slender and more “palmable.” Whether it’s for THC or CBD, vape cartridges and pods come in a variety of strains and flavors and can have a variety of effects. Vaping has become so popular that you may even find vending machines that dispense CBD carts.
Because of the pen-shaped silhouette of a cartridge and battery, “vape pen” is commonly used as a shorthand for all varieties of vapes. Some people will also use the term “dab pen” interchangeably, but that’s not the case. A dab pen is a concentrate vaporizer capable of heating the extracts typically used in dabs, like shatter and wax. There are also some dab pens that have a heating chamber that functions with herb.
While vapes offer what’s usually the most efficient and discreet way to dose with an inhalant, there are users who want the portability of a vaporizer, but with the experience of smoking herb like they would from a pipe or a bong. Herb vaping got its big break as large, at-home devices – desktop vaporizers like the Volcano that required a lot of setup. Now, there are portable dry herb vaporizers.
This desire for dry herb vape pens doesn’t just apply to consumers who want the psychoactive components of THC – it goes for users smoking CBD flower, too. CBD still isn’t legal in every state, but the restrictions on it are still much looser than those on THC products. And unlike THC, CBD can also be derived from hemp, which is legal to grow anywhere in the United States as of 2018.
Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants. In fact, they’re the same species, cannabis sativa, and they’re identical outside of a few small factors with big effects – like their THC content. Hemp plants contain less than .3% THC, which is why the plant is legal to grow, unlike marijuana.
For centuries or more, hemp can be woven into ropes, clothing, and textile products like rugs.. Its seeds can be used in animal feed or processed for human consumption. There’s also a lot of potential for hemp’s uses in the biofuel industry. CBD products are far from the only use, whether it’s on a day to day or an industrial scale.
Hemp is legal to grow everywhere in the United States. With CBD, it’s a little more complex. The laws are very different state to state, and the FDA has classified pure CBD as a drug used to treat seizures. This is why the rules for a CBD topical balm are different than they are for a tote bag made of hemp – even if the balm and the bag are manufactured from the same plant in the same place.
Smoking hemp may have effects similar to vaping CBD oil. Even without the THC content of other cannabis plants, hemp has a wide range of cannabinoids in addition to CBD. Using a vaporizer to heat the hemp releases this range more effectively and consistently than an open flame from a lighter. When you can control the heat you can control the dosage more completely.
You can buy CBD flower online just like other CBD and hemp products, as long as you live in a state the vendor can legally ship to. You can also buy it in person. In places where CBD products are fully legalized, you may even spot hemp flower for sale at the counter of a liquor store – the same place you’d see cigarettes or lottery tickets. There’s an array of products, just like you’d find shopping for THC. Anything from gummies to tinctures to products for pets.
Sometimes hemp even comes in pre-rolled joints, but obviously you won’t need those if your endgame is using dry herb in a vaporizer (and for better or worse, pets can’t smoke a joint). Most of the same sites also sell vaporizers, so you aren’t limited to looking for your dry herb vaporizer near you.
Dry herb vaporizers don’t all require you to travel around with loose flower, and maybe even a grinder. You can also get vaporizers meant for disposable pods that are preloaded with flower.
Flower goes quicker than oil, even when you vape the herb instead of smoking it in a joint or bowl, so the herb pods aren’t identical to vape carts. They’re more of a cross between vape carts and Keurig cups.
Unlike K-cups, vaping dry herb is also much more environmentally friendly than vaping oil extracts in cartridges. Vape carts aren’t always easy to recycle, because they contain a mixture of oil, plastic, and metal – all of which has been exposed to heat repeatedly. Dry herb pods are far more biodegradable than those containing oil. If you’re using a vaporizer with a its own heating chamber, you’re creating even less waste.
If you’re just getting into vaping, the best dry herb vaporizers for beginners are usually the best dry herb vaporizers under $100, so it isn’t any more expensive to experiment with than any other modern form of cannabis consumption. Because a dry herb vaporizer is sometimes heftier and more functional than its oil extract counterparts, the battery tends to have a longer shelf life. You’re also not going to have to clean any oil spills or sugared cartridges that have been heated to a pulp.
Whether it’s herb or oil, CBD or THC, vaping offers consumers the ability to dose in a controlled way. There’s no attention grabbing setup or lingering smell that will offend anyone who’s inexperienced or less than comfortable with the drug. Vaping dry herb is the best way to manage temperature. Heating hemp at the right temperature releases the widest array of cannabinoids, This results in the strongest potential effects.