In the beginning, there was the 420 Era, an age of thick, dank smoke. Baungs, chillums, and hookahs were used and these pieces of pot smoking paraphernalia evolved over time to become joints, pipes, and bongs. And so it was like this for millennia. Until now. As contemporary cannabis connoisseurs, we’ve just entered the EnHIGHtened age. Our prayers have finally been answered by weed wizards and cannabis boffins, so now we no longer have to inhale gross burnt stuff or waste our marijuana’s precious cannabidiols. Because now, we can dab and we can vape, hoorah! Unfortunately, though, there’s always someone, somewhere who was clearly born without an ounce of common sense, and as such, there’s a bit of a brewhaha going on about using vape pens to consume cannabis.
The three reasons behind the dabbing/vape pen controversy
1. Dabbing has a pretty unfavorable background
The contemporary art of dabbing cannabis concentrates owes some of its genesis from the less than savory art of Hot Knifing. This skill gave the downtrodden, unwashed, broke, lazy beatniks of the 1960s and 70s a chance to get ever so slightly stoned until they could get their hands on some more weed or hashish. These desperate, scruffy potheads would heat up two butter knives over a stove in order to combust the nasty resin they’d managed to scrape from their pipes or bongs. Not a nice image, is it? Even though we hated having to bring up ye olde stoner stereotypes, and even though we disliked drumming up imagery of hardcore drug use and addiction, we had to show you that this representation of smoking weed is what a lot of people associate today with hot knifing’s modern day equivalent, vaping.
2. Dabbing’s image still hasn’t improved. In 2014 vape pens were demonized as being “the crack cocaine of marijuana”
In April 2014, on the Weekend Edition Saturday radio show, presenter Scott Simon introduced a piece about marijuana vape pens. During the segment, reporter Miles Bryan interviewed John Lovell, the spokesperson for the California Narcotic Officers Association. Not only did Lovell partake in some fearmongering, saying that the stealthiness of a vape pen was dangerous (what?!), he also showed the world that stoner stereotypes and their apparent relationship with hardcore drugs are still very much alive.
JOHN LOVELL: Hash oil is correctly referred to as the crack cocaine of marijuana.
Thanks to the unenlightened words of one man from California, the controversy surrounding the use of vape pens, e-juices, and cannabis concentrates continues to blaze on. This new association that has formed between marijuana and crack cocaine, (in particular, the way that both substances are made – by heating them to very high temperatures), doesn’t give us the confidence to believe that the controversy is going to show signs of fizzling away anytime soon.
3. The process of making cannabis concentrates for vape pens is dangerous
Because marijuana extraction is so complex and dangerous (because you have to deal with explosive solvents and the like), many anti-cannabis lobbyists and pro-marijuana supporters are concerned for people’s safety. To extract the goodness from cannabis and to turn it into wax, shatter or BHO, the plant must be blasted with a chemical solvent, like butane or carbon dioxide. Once that has occurred the solvent must be purged away. The whole process is dangerous, or, rather, not doing it properly is dangerous. Many novice cannaboffins have caused large explosions while attempting their own butane extractions. Until such a time as there is a safe and reliable method of extraction, the whole process of making concentrates will just continue to stoke the flames of controversy.
But, is there something behind the controversy, though?
Yes and no.
Yes, but just a little bit. The process of making waxes, shatter and oils can be, at times, undeniably dangerous, but as time moves on and people are taught how to extract marijuana concentrates safely, with the proper equipment, and they’re made aware and accept the risks involved, this element of the vape debate will just evaporate into nothing.
And no, because a lot of the controversy is based on stereotypes and fear mongering. Yes, heating a substance to such high temperatures in order to get high or medicated is a theme that unfortunately links crack cocaine with marijuana, but to build up from this rather unsubstantial point to associate the two very disparate experiences together is ludicrous. Vaping is not grimy, it’s not dingy, and it’s certainly not done by lazy beatniks. Using a vape pen is a refined experience and it’s a healthier alternative to smoking spliffs or taking bong hits. What’s more, a vape pen, and even the current methods of cannabis extraction, are creations that boast some of the world’s latest and most innovative technologies. Plus, the marijuana extraction market is highly regulated, so all the concentrates purchased for a vape pen can be bought with confidence, and there’s the social element of vaping to consider, as well as the health benefits. For all these reasons and more, we believe that the anti-vape pen argument is null and void.
In the end, dabbing has become guilty by association, but despite the controversy surrounding both it and vape pens, a new culture is blossoming within the cannabis industry. Thanks to marijuana legalization and highly publicized events like the Cannabis Cup, vaping is taking the weed world by storm. Forget the controversy, tell 420 it’s time to move over, buy a vape pen and get ready to embrace the 710 epoch.