This article is part of RYOT’s original series HIGH MINDED: The Changing Perceptions of Cannabis, presented by Leafly.
Technology is changing our lives at an ever-increasing rate. And pot isn’t immune to the allure of innovation. In fact, contrary to the stereotype of the lazy stoner, entrepreneurs and creators alike have quietly pushed pot culture to the forefront of the tech world.
It’s a far cry from the days when someone who wanted to smoke pot had to physically connect with a dealer and then smoke or eat whatever random strain of pot was currently available.
“It’s easy for people to find healthier food options and different gyms to join, but for the smoker, the alternatives were gum or a patch,” Seibo Shen, CEO of VapeXHale, told RYOT News. “Now that we have vaporization, a person trying to quit smoking has an alternative that is similar to their previous habit but much healthier and safer.”
I interviewed Shen in Los Angeles where he was unveiling a new attachment to his company’s popular vaporizer. A lifelong athlete, Shen had wanted to get away from smoking pot but still wanted access to its medical benefits. When he tried other vaporizers, he found they were better than smoking a joint or using a pipe but were still affecting his performance levels when he was running and engaged in other physical activities.
So, he and his team literally invented a new type of vaporizer that combined different aspects of vaping technology along with the aesthetics and ritual of a luxury glass bong. The final product not only has been a hit with the weed community but also has literally won awards in tech industry competitions that have nothing to do with pot.
Even a generation ago, it would be hard to imagine words like “efficient” and “healthy” being used interchangeably with smoking pot. But today’s weed culture is all about efficiency. Dispensaries in California, Washington, Colorado and other states are constantly optimizing the levels of THC and CBD, giving customers a wide variety of choices in how strong they want their product and whether it should have an uplifting (sativa) or stress relieving (indica). The world of pot edibles has dramatically changed, too. Gone are the days of the barely edible pot brownie. Instead, customers can now choose from hundreds of products, most of which actually taste good, and include everything from lollipops to popcorn and THC infused drinks.
However, one increasingly popular way of using marijuana has remained fairly stagnant: hash, “dabbing,” and other THC infused concentrates like wax. So, when it came time to release another version of his Cloud EVO, Shen decided to include the option for”essential oils” functionality.
“We saw a huge need for this in the industry,” he said. “The tools that are currently used to consume concentrates are extremely archaic and resemble devices that could be compared to what a junkie would use. We came in contact with many patients who suffer from Crohn’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, PTSD, etc. and they require larger concentrations of medicine, but did not want the social stigma that may be associated with dabbing.”
What will the future of pot technology offer? It’s hard to predict exactly how people will choose to indulge in or medicate themselves with marijuana. However, as it becomes increasingly mainstream, it’s clear that there will be options for just about every type of person and need.
“This all goes back to the question of how we want to use our technology for good,” Shen said. “We felt it was very important to provide patients with an alternative delivery methodology which would not only provide a safer method of delivery, but one that would be more socially acceptable.”