Tag: Cannabis 101

Tips for Growing Green Crack Cannabis

Ever wanted to grow your favorite strain? Leafly and Botanicare are teaming up on a series of grow guides that will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to grow different strains successfully.

Strain Overview: A member of the Skunk family, Green Crack is a popular sativa-dominant variety. Its distinctive lime green color and citrus smell make it an easily recognizable strain. A daytime favorite due to its invigorating effects, Green Crack is ideal for fighting fatigue and stress while inspiring creativity.

Grow Techniques: Green Crack will grow tall and fast before it begins to flower. Be on top of your trellising, as you want to be prepared for buds that develop quickly over a short flowering period. Green Crack does well outdoors in healthy soils with lots of space for roots to develop.

Flowering Time: 8 weeks

Yield: Moderate to high

Grow Difficulty: Easy

Climate: Prefers mild to warm climates between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor/Outdoor: Green Crack performs exceptionally well outdoors where the plant can take off and fill space. It has an extremely strong smell that hangs around even during harsh outdoor weather. This sativa is also popular indoors as its flowering cycle is so rapid, it leads to more harvests annually.

Feeding: Start feeding with lots of phosphorus early on in the flowering stage to make sure the buds get enough food before harvest.

“The Drug War Created Stronger Strains”: 5 Ironic Contradictions in Cannabis

There has been no shortage of ironies pointed out by cannabis supporters and reformers in discussing issues in cannabis policy and the social attitudes that accompany it. Do we even need to rehash how the federal government continues to list cannabis as having no medicinal value when well over half the country has legalized it for medicinal use? We’ll refrain from commenting ad nauseum on this, yet there are many more contradictions woven into cannabis policy, history and culture. From the difficulty of legalizing fully in states where support for legalization is the strongest, to the fact that there’s no legal way to start a new state’s medical marijuana industry from scratch, below are just five of the ironies in cannabis today.

1. States with more support for legalization can have a harder time legalizing.

The more individuals that support legalization in a certain state, the more competing legislative proposals tend to be introduced in that state. Different groups with differing interests compete for support for their unique proposal, which can end up splitting pro-legalization voters into factions, and making it impossible to accumulate the support required to pass any one legalization proposal. California, for instance, has been at the forefront of the movement toward legalizing recreational marijuana for decades, yet thanks in large part to competing proposals, it has already been beaten to the punch by four states and D.C., with the potential for many more to overtake it in 2016.

Top 10 Cannabis Strains in California

2. A crackdown on criminal behavior encourages criminality.

When the original Prohibition experiment was enacted in the United States in 1920, it created a new breed of citizen: the scofflaw. Overnight, innocent people were made criminals, and where previously, unlawful behavior had been relatively rare and socially scorned, suddenly, a huge proportion of the populace found themselves frequently and openly in violation of the law. Rather than encouraging temperance, habitual lawbreaking simply became commonplace. The same has proved true with cannabis prohibition; with 44% of Americans having tried cannabis (according to Gallup), about one in four U.S. citizens technically counts as a criminal under federal law, and this sort of lawlessness has become as rampant as the consumption of alcohol was during Prohibition.

3. The War on Drugs created stronger strains.

When The War on Drugs pushed marijuana onto the black market, it made surreptitious growth and transportation of cost-effective quantities of marijuana extremely difficult. As such, the development of highly potent plants optimal for trafficking was significantly incentivized. “Drugs are more potent today…but that’s largely because of the drug war, not despite it,” writes Johann Hari for the Los Angeles Times. “As crackdowns on a drug become more harsh, the milder forms of that drug disappear — and the most extreme strains become most widely available.” Today, cannabis is between 57 and 67 percent more potent than the pre-prohibition cannabis of the 1970s.

Why is Cannabis Now So Different from 1970s Cannabis?

4. There’s currently no legal way of sourcing cannabis to establish a legal medical marijuana industry.

What happens when a new state legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes? Inevitably, an illegal act must transpire to spark the state’s new industry. Ignoring seeds that are within state borders prior to legalization, which already fall into the illegal category, the alternative is to source seeds from states who have already legalized cannabis. As it is federally illegal to transport cannabis, including its seeds, across state and national borders alike, any seeds must therefore be acquired illegally.

5. What has long been vilified as a gateway to harder drug use is now being studied as a gateway out of it.

As cannabis gains more mainstream acceptance and understanding than ever, the potential of cannabis as a means of weaning addicts off of harder drugs is being taken more seriously. With the epidemic of opioid abuse in particular, studies such as one published by Columbia University in July 2015 have supported this hypothesis. “From 1999 to 2008, the U.S. saw a 300 percent increase in overdose deaths from painkillers,” summarized Ali Venosa for Medical Daily. “Despite its reputation among many as a gateway drug or otherwise dangerous substance, deaths directly resulting from an overdose of marijuana are nonexistent.” Instead, evidence that cannabis can help address withdrawal symptoms increasingly suggests that it could actually help save lives that might otherwise be lost to addiction.

States with Legal Medical Cannabis Have Seen a 25% Decrease in Prescription Painkiller Overdose Deaths

The Do’s & Don’ts of Cleaning Your Glass: What to Watch Out for With Pipes, Bubblers & Bongs

This article is sponsored by Mile HIGH Cleaner, dedicated to developing all-natural cleaning solutions for the cannabis industry.

The more frequently you consume cannabis, the more important it becomes to clean your pipes, bubblers and bongs. The big question: how to get your glass pieces clean? Not only can resin look and smell unpleasant, its tar compounds include carbon and carcinogens, and continuing to burn them can have an array of negative health effects.

That said, cleaning can be a chore. Furthermore, many are unsure of how best to do it. Through a pair of informal Facebook polls, we asked the Leafly community how and how often they cleaned their glass. Here are a few of the responses we received.

How do you clean your glass?

“Ummm, you are supposed to clean it?” –Andrew Frost

“I don’t, just toss it and buy a new one.” –Robert Weaver

“Dawn power clean dish soap, hot water and pipe cleaners.” –Amanda Skelton

“Nail polish remover that contains 100% acetone…And for more home convenience, run it through the dishwasher.” –Aris Butler

“91% isopropyl alcohol and sea salt…any course salt will work…even sugar works in a pinch.” –Rich Schmitz

“The only thing to use is grain alcohol, it evaporates 100%.” –Gerald Schoolnick

“Fill a plastic bag with a tablespoon of sodium and enough isopropyl alcohol to submerge your piece completely. Place your piece in the substance and make sure the inside gets filled with liquid. Let it sit for 15+ min, shake the bag and move the mixture through the pipe. Remove, boil, and scrape the remainder with a paper clip. It’s important to remove resin as it will be toxic.” –Ben Craighton

“Iso & sea salt, final rinse with a bit of lemon juice for sparkle.” –Chaz French

“Rubbing alcohol & salt, but then polishing toothpaste.” –Courtney Kruk

“Thoroughly.” –Jeff Monastyrsky

Most of the glass cleaning methods above are a lot of work, and require soaking, shaking, or hazardous chemicals. Jim Berry, founder of Lakewood, Colo.’s Mile HIGH Cleaner, set about finding an easier solution for the resin that was building up on his own bong. “I recently started smoking again and realized there hadn’t been any real innovation in cleaning in decades. I started research into this and figured out a better way of cleaning,” says Berry. His compound of all-natural plant-based oils is odorless, tasteless and inert, and is designed to encapsulate the five types of resin left behind by smoking cannabis, allowing them to be washed away easily with a hot water rinse. (Since inventing Mile HIGH Cleaner in 2015, Berry has also discovered that it works on other items, including vapes, dab rigs and cannabis trimming tools.)

Based on his experience, Berry shared the following do’s and don’ts for cleaning your glass. Keep them in mind the next time you see resin on your pipe or bong!


Do clean your bong daily, and your pipes once per week. “It really makes a difference; you can taste the smoke, not the resin,” says Berry, who also warns that water-based paraphernalia can grow mold or attract pests in a matter of days.

Do be mindful of the environment. Berry says his plant-based cleaner is safe to eat, and will not harm you or the environment.

Do protect new glass. “By adding 10 drops to the bong, resin will not stick to the glass,” says Berry of his product. “The resin actually prefers to stick to the cleaner. The next day, rinse it clean in hot water. Refill with 10 drops, add water and smoke again.”

Do discover the real flavor of your smoke through a clean pipe or bong. “That clean hit is the best,” says Berry.


Don’t use isopropyl alcohol. “Isopropyl alcohol…is by far the most commonly used cleaning substance for bong and pipe cleaning,” says Berry. “It is also listed by eight different government agencies as being toxic,” including the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Don’t experiment with anything you wouldn’t consume directly. Acetone-based nail polish remover, for instance, is hazardous. “You chose natural medication in cannabis, so why clean with hazardous chemicals?” says Berry.

Don’t spend too much time or money. Berry says using a cleaner like his costs less than eight cents per day, and should take less than a minute to wash away after each use.

To learn more and purchase the product, visit www.milehighcleaner.com.

Cannabis Science 101: The Complex Chemistry of the Bong

Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Breeding, Genetics, and Strain Variability

Among all the colorful cannabis strain names on the shelves at your local shop, some crop up more than others: OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookiesthe list goes on. You could assume, rightly, that these are some of the best, and therefore most popular, genetics on the market. Truly great strains earn a reputation with growers and consumers through reviews and word of mouth, with the best-of-the-best earning regional, national, and even international name recognition.  

If you’ve become a fan of a particular strain and have acquired it from different sources over a period of time, you’ve probably noticed a distinct lack of consistency. There may even be times when a particular sample bears little or no resemblance to the strain know and love. Of course, differences in growing techniques, environment, and light conditions play a significant role in how flowers turn out. But given the exact same genetics, most skilled growers are able to produce results that at least are recognizable as the same plant. Why, then, is it so difficult to find consistency among different samples of the same strain? Answering that requires a dive into the murky waters of cannabis genetics and breeding.

Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid: What's the Difference Between Cannabis Types?

Every spring, hopeful gardeners head to the hardware store to pick up packets of tomato seeds with names like Early Girl and Oregon Spring, visions of bountiful harvests of juicy crimson fruit dancing in their rain-drunk brains. While the outcome is hardly guaranteed, one thing is assured: All the plants grown from a pack of seeds will produce fruit of the same general size and flavor. In the cannabis world, this just isn’t the case.  

Tomatoes, as well as most other garden vegetables, are monoecious plants, meaning they have both male and female organs on a single plant. The cannabis plant is dioecious; it has separate male and female plants, the female being the one cultivated for its THC-laden flowers. Dioecious plants are more complicated to breed, because you have to pollinate a female plant with a male plant. Seeds generated from cross-pollination of two plants present more genetic variation than seeds generated through self-pollination. With tomatoes, a staple food crop, breeders have dedicated considerable resources to breeding the fruit for commercial and home cultivation since 1940. Teams of scientists have spent years developing single varieties, selecting for traits such as size, flavor, pest-resistance, and drought-tolerance. Almost without exception, they’ve bred for uniformity as well.  

Some cannabis breeders have also spent years breeding and crossing plants, often starting with a popular clone-only strain, in an effort to create a seed-based strain that expresses the traits of one of the parents. Even those efforts, though, yield some amount of variation across specimens. You could sprout ten seeds, and each will produce a plant that is slightly different in some way. The best of these seed strains are quite expensive and highly sought-after by commercial growers, who will often sprout 100 or more seeds of a single variety in order to find a plant that truly represents what the breeder intended.  

Cannabis Genotypes and Phenotypes: What Makes a Strain Unique?

The vast majority of seed breeders don’t even attempt to create a uniform strain. Instead they’re simply after a stable genetic line, called a hybrid. These make up a large number of the popular strains grown today, and it can take hundreds, even thousands of seeds to find one that expresses all of the desired traits. Unless a grower can locate an actual cutting of an original strain, it’s challenging and time-consuming to produce the “right” genetics. There’s always the temptation to sprout just a handful of seeds and sell the resulting product under a popular name, regardless of whether it is a good representation of the strain.

Until recently, growing cannabis has been almost entirely an underground activity. As such, the development of today’s most popular strains has largely gone undocumented. A Google search on the histories of Sour Diesel and OG Kush brings up colorful stories of Grateful Dead shows and dudes named P-Bud and Chem Dog, as well as hourslong podcasts on the subject — but no positive proof of their origins. Plants were passed around the U.S. and even Europe by seed and by clone from as early as the 1980s and ’90s, and have been kept alive since then through breeding and, allegedly, even as original cuttings. At this point in time, it is impossible to determine whether or not a particular example of OG Kush or Sour Diesel is a true descendant of the original.

Now that cannabis is emerging from the underground, genetic testing should eventually make it possible to pinpoint a strain and even determine its geographical lineage. For now, we’ll have to trust growers and budtenders — as well as our senses and personal experience — to tell us if the strain we’re consuming truly measures up to its name.

The Cannabis Origin: What Is a Landrace Strain?

Cannabis Science 101: The Complex Chemistry of the Bong

What’s going on in that bong?

Seriously. What is the science behind the water pipe? Are those bubbles actually making your toke any healthier? It’s complicated. 

A couple things are happening. Burning cannabis produces a smoke stream that contains all the things you want — activated THC, CBD, other cannabinoids and terpenes — and a lot of things you don’t, like hot smoke, tar, and fine particulate matter, a.k.a. ash. “Tar” is a catch-all term for the hundreds of nasty compounds produced by cannabis combustion. Aside from nicotine, cannabis smoke is qualitatively similar to tobacco smoke, with a lot of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) you don’t want in your lungs. There is epidemiologic evidence that tobacco smokers who use a water pipe have a much lower incidence of cancer than those who smoke cigarettes or regular pipes. So clearly there’s some good filtration going on. (Too much cannabis smoking can harm the lungs in a number of ways, but despite decades spent looking for it, researchers have never found a link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer — a story for another day.) 

The bong, a.k.a. water pipe, immediately cools the smoke by passing it through water, resulting in a smoother toke. The water also filters out any ash that might otherwise blow into your mouth or airway. There’s also a certain amount of tar filtration that goes on. That’s why the water eventually turns sickly brown.

That’s about the extent of agreement, though. “There’s a great debate about whether bongs actually filter effectively,” says Kenji Hobbs, manager at Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop in Seattle. “Studies in California have shown bongs filter more water-soluble psychoactive cannabinoids than tar and polycarbons, which means the user has to smoke more weed to get an effective high, because the tar-to-cannabinoid ration is now more skewed towards tar.”

Nobody’s sure exactly how much cannabinoid filtration is going on, though. “Those who are familiar with and work in cannabis extractions know that water, as a polar solvent, doesn’t do a good job of dissolving cannabinoids, terpenes, or waxes,” says A.J. Fabrizio, director of research for Los Angeles-are medical cannabis company Terra Tech. This is why homebrew concentrate makers use non-polar solvents such as butane, not water, as a solvent. (We shouldn’t have to say this, but: Please don’t homebrew concentrates using solvents. It’s illegal and people could die. Try making rosin instead.)

How to Make Rosin

“Are you losing any cannabinoids or terpenes as the gas passes through water?” says Fabrizio. “Yes, but it’s negligible. The water will preferentially filter particulate matter and potentially solvate polar molecules, over the cannabinoids and terpenes, which have virtually zero water solubility.”

It’s not a one-way exchange, though. What’s in the water can also change the nature of the smoke. “If you’ve inhaled through dirty bong water, you know what happens,” says Fabrizio. “It tastes like dirty disgusting resin.” Further, “if the water has been chlorinated, that chlorine flavor will carry through.” That’s because the gas is absorbing denatured constituents from the dirty water, such as plant-based molecules that have been fully oxidized during combustion, and that exchange comes through the bubbles. It’s a two-way interaction. “This is why people talk about cleaning your bong — and it’s also important with dabbing too. You need to make sure that chamber and that water is pretty clean if you want to ensure an unadulterated flavor”

The gas-liquid exchange occurs only between the surface area of each bubble and the surrounding liquid. “Really big bubbles offer relatively low surface area to volume ratios,” Fabrizio explains. “A diffuser that produces a lot of smaller bubbles offer a relatively high surface area to volume ratio allowing for greater exchange between the gas and liquid,” and presumably a greater degree of filtration.

Does it make sense to use alcohol — vodka and such — in the chamber? “Not advised, or safe,” says Fabrizio. “Huffing alcohol fumes is toxic.” In addition, cannabinoids and terpenes are more likely to dissolve in alcohol than water, so you’re essentially stripping the smoke of its more desirable compounds. It’s also a nasty inhalation experience, as our Leafly testing team recently found in The Great Bong Experiment of 2016

We Replaced Bong Water with Vodka, Gatorade, and a Slurpee: The Great Bong Experiment of 2016

Very few studies have been done on cannabis and water pipes, and those studies have turned up curious data. That “California study” Hobbs, of Uncle Ike’s, referred to was carried out in the mid-1990s by Dale Gieringer, NORML’s California state coordinator, in association with MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. They wanted to test the effectiveness of bongs, joints, and vaporizers. They found that unfiltered joints actually outperformed the bong — by quite a lot. The bong, they reported, “produced 30% more tar per cannabinoids than the unfiltered joint.” The vaporizer — at the time, one of the earliest on the market — vastly outperformed them all, delivering far more cannabinoids per unit of tar. One of the problems, Gieringer wrote back then, was that the researchers were forced to use poor-quality marijuana supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with THC levels of 2.3 percent. (Today’s legal cannabis typically ranges between 15 to 25 percent THC.) That little detail matters, because it requires consumers to burn more leaf – and inhale more unwanted byproducts – to obtain the desired level of cannabinoid intake. “We were surprised and a little disappointed at the time,” Gieringer recalled last week. “But we learned that vaporization looked good, even with what was at the time a really crude device.”

Also in the mid-1990s, University of Wisconsin pharmacologist Nicholas V. Cozzi penned a literature review of past water pipe studies, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. He found that the devices “can be effective in removing components from marijuana smoke that are known toxicants, while allowing the THC to pass through relatively intact.” 

The conflicting results were puzzling, to say the least, and pointed out the need for further study. Unfortunately, further water pipe studies were not forthcoming. Researchers instead focused their attention on studies of vaporizers as a more healthy vehicle for cannabis dosing. In the meantime, Gieringer had a tip for those looking for a healthier form of intake: Consider more cannabinoids per unit of vegetable matter.  

“The easiest way for most smokers to avoid harmful smoke toxins,” he wrote, “may be simply to smoke stronger marijuana.” 

How Does a Bong Work? A Guide to the Water Pipe

How Mexican ‘Herbolarias’ Transformed Hemp Into Psychoactive Marijuana

Historian John Charles Chasteen provides a brief global history of cannabis in his new book, Getting High: Marijuana Through the Ages. Best known for his studies in Latin American history, the University of North Carolina historian retraces the history of cannabis from today’s legalization era back to Neolithic times. Along the way he unearths broad patterns of use and cultivation that carried the crop around the world. One mystery is the plant’s apparent transformation from common hemp into psychoactive “mariguana,” discussed in the following excerpt for Leafly. Getting High will be published later this month by Rowman & Littlefield.

Where did psychoactive marijuana come from?

We know marijuana came to the United States from Mexico in the early 1900s. After months spent chasing Pancho Villa and his men, American soldiers returned home and brought with them packets of grifo, mildly psychoactive Mexican cannabis. At the same time, Mexican laborers brought marijuana with them as they migrated north.

But how did it get to Mexico? It’s not an easy mystery to unlock. The entirety of knowledge about the history of cannabis in the Western Hemisphere prior to 1850 would probably fit on a couple sheets of paper. By piecing together the evidence we can see that the story went something like this.

In the 1530s, one of the Spaniards led by Hernan Cortes set his forced indigenous laborers to planting Spanish hemp in the highlands around Mexico City. The historical record is sparse, but there are scattered mentions of hemp production on a modest scale through the 1760s. In the 1770s, the Spanish Crown launched a campaign to foment hemp production in Mexico. This met with indifferent success.

By the 1770s, though, another kind of production had quietly taken off. A priest of the Central Highlands by the name of Jose Ramirez learned that indigenous people not far from Mexico City were consuming preparations that they called pipiltzintzintlis, concoctions that gave them access to the spirit world.

Fearing pagan idolatry, the priest acquired a bit of the mysterious pipiltzintzlis and found to his amazement that, as far as he could see, it was simply the leaves and seeds of Cannabis sativa, or European hemp.

The hemp that European colonizers introduced throughout their North and South American colonies had never been used to get high. Although commercial hemp production never had much success in colonial Mexico, indigenous people continued to cultivate the plant for something other than fiber. When officials seeking cordage and sailcloth for the Spanish Empire asked Ramirez where they could find hemp seeds in Mexico, Ramirez told them. Go to the marketplace, he said, and ask for pipiltzintzintlis. Look for the indigenous herbolarias, the herb dealers.

Religious specialists among the indigenous people had used psychoactive substances for many centuries before the arrival of the Spanish. The Catholic Church condemned the use of pipiltzintzintlis, peyote, and teonanacatl because they represented the competition, so to speak–access to a religious experience outside the strict confines of the church. Therefore Mexico’s spiritual users of psychoactive cannabis kept a low profile.

The question remains: How did hemp develop into psychoactive pipiltzintzintlis? Apparently, between the 1530s and the 1780s, when commercial hemp production was fizzling, there nonetheless had been subsistence cultivation of Cannabis sativa, a few plants here and there in rural kitchen gardens. Mexico is one of the world’s hot spots of plant domestication. Corn, a Mexican creation, is a prime example. Domestic corn constitutes a triumph of early bio-engineering, entirely transformed from its wild progenitors. These botanical wizards also had experience with hallucinogenic flora that gave privileged access to the spirit world.

Anthropologists believe that the New World has so many more known hallucinogens than the Old–roughly ten times as many–not because it was providentially endowed with more, but because New World people were better at identifying and cultivating them. They gained this ability, hypothetically, by migrating through so many different climate zones to populate the Americas.

In view of all this, we shouldn’t be surprised if ten generations of indigenous Mexican botanists, aided by the blistering tropical sun, were able to discover and cultivate the psychoactive potential in European hemp.

Oddly, Ramirez’s discovery of pipiltzintzintlis was soon forgotten. Not until the 1840s does one find further evidence that marijuana existed in Mexico. And then, there it is: In 1846, the Mexican Academy of Pharmacy published a national pharmacopeia that registered the existence of two separate Mexican strains of cannabis: sativa, listed for its “emulsive seed,” and “Rosa Maria,” used for its “narcotic leaves.” Another name for Rosa Maria was a word that first appearance in print in the pages of the 1846 pharmacopeia: mariguana.

Within the next decade, a pharmacist of the University of Guadalajara mentioned that Rosa Maria was smoked in cigarettes, the first mention of that practice. (Pipiltzintzintlis seems to have been eaten. It was, in a sense, the original edible.) Further references followed in the 1860s and 1870s, as the word marihuana gradually became familiar to readers of Mexican newspapers.

Marijuana was very far from being a universal of Mexican life, however. Little known in the cities before 1850, it grew widely in the countryside, and the smokers of it were poor country people and mestizos, people in the not-Indian, not-European category of cultural/racial in-between-ness by which Mexicans increasingly defined their national sense of self.

Though not illegal, smoking Rosa Maria was considered un-Catholic. The innocent-sounding name was a reminder of the need to blow some smoke, so to speak, when mentioning the drug. The young rural men who gathered to pass a marijuana cigarette from hand to hand were not doing anything religious, not divining the future or gaining access to the spirit world. They were using marijuana more as a cheap substitute for pulque, a fermented beverage made from the maguey plant. And yet, the idea that marijuana was a “devil weed,” the idea that it was a bit pagan, that it produced madness and unholy violence–that had not completely vanished, either.

Then populations mixed. Beginning in the 1860s, national upheaval and war, followed by a period of rapid economic growth, stirred things up in rural Mexico. Soldiers and workers moved around the country. Along the way migrants passed through growing towns. These travelers were young men with zero years of schooling, jostled loose from tiny, traditional villages, now far from home, willing to try their hands at anything. They landed in the army, in labor camps, in rough neighborhoods where homeless drifters go to spend the night. Often they got in trouble for fighting. It was a commonplace belief that marihuana, like pulque and tequila, made them do it.
Prisons and military barracks were the two places most associated with marijuana smoking in Mexico by 1900. We should be clear about what that means. Marijuana had not turned these conscripts into soldiers, obviously, and neither had it turned them into prisoners. Rather, prisons and barracks created the ideal conditions for marijuana to substitute for pulque. Compared with alcoholic drinks, marijuana was much more easily smuggled and consumed. Prisons and barracks were also places of tough masculine society where the “devil weed” reputation could even be a plus. So “prisoner” and “soldier” were the most frequently mentioned identities of early marijuana users in the Mexican press. Other descriptors applied in print were lower class, degenerate, thieves, Indians, social dregs, and revolutionaries–along with various references to women, such as herbolarias, prostitutes, and soldaderas. The denizens of Mexico City’s underworld were said to loiter at cheap cafes smoking grifos and drinking coffee laced with cane liquor. Finally, there were also some middle-class dandies who dabbled with marijuana. A group of young dandies was said to meet at night in the shadowy cloisters of an abandoned convent, decorated with symbols of occult spiritualism, to smoke marijuana and read poetry.

Some women smoked marijuana, but press reports provide good evidence that men outnumbered them twenty to one. Women appear in the press reports much more often as suppliers than users. Herbolarias were not supposed to sell marijuana, but they remained the chief source of it for the urban population. Soldaderas, who traveled with soldiers to cook for them and take care of them in various ways, could be described as prostitutes or as soldiers’ sweethearts, overlapping categories at the time. Getting marijuana from the herbolaria and sneaking it to her man in a jail or a prisonlike barracks was a routine chore for such a woman, who may never have smoked it herself.

Mexican press accounts from the turn of the twentieth century present marijuana as a substance that turns smokers into homicidal maniacs after exactly three puffs. Here, in article after article, we find the origins of the “reefer madness” image later publicized in the United States by Harry Anslinger’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics. It’s an open question how much this “social script” influenced the behavior of the young men who were smoking the stuff. Did they feel themselves possessed by a devilish influence that made (or allowed) them to run amok? Press descriptions of fights under the influence of marijuana don’t differ much, in fact, from descriptions of similar fights under the influence of drink. Mention of alcohol in such accounts was twenty to a hundred times more common. And yet the Mexican press had absolutely nothing good to say about marijuana, whereas alcohol was a different, more complex story.

Alcohol was the active ingredient of lower-class pulque, but also of champagne and cognac, symbols of European chic in a country whose better-off citizens yearned for Europe. Only a smattering of bohemian middle-class Mexicans dabbled with marijuana, but all social classes drank. Immigrant families of German brewers were beginning to produce excellent beer in Mexico. Consequently, grisly murders, described with lurid detail in the yellow press, could not define the entire social meaning of alcohol, only its lowlife pathology, for the Mexican reading public. But they could, and did, define the entire meaning of marijuana. and marijuana’s indigenous image only made matters more embarrassing for the Mexican middle class, by reminding them of a Mexico that they preferred to forget.

All this gives us a much better picture of the backstory of marijuana smoking in the United States. The U.S.-built railroads that were stirring up the Mexican countryside also hired many Mexican workers and carried them north to the U.S. border. U.S. mining and ranching interests in northern Mexico wanted more strong young men with zero years of schooling, and soon U.S. labor contractors were signing them up to repair track or pick peaches north of the border. Nobody but the young men knew they smoked marijuana, until they got into fights…and the rest is history.

Now we can understand why Pancho Villa’s soldiers sang about marijuana, why migrating workers kept the stuff under wraps, and why respectable Mexican Americans had not the slightest interest in defending it. Finally, we can see where Harry Anslinger got the idea of promoting the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 by showing congressmen pictures of mangled corpses. It had all happened before, to powerful effect, south of the border.

Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?

Living in such a tech-forward era comes with many conveniences, but also with many burdens such as choosing a vaporizer amidst a sea of endless options. This can be particularly difficult for those who are just now diving into the cannabis game or returning from a very long hiatus. A changing legal climate has given rise to all kinds of newfangled contraptions that deliver your desired effects with unprecedented precision, efficiency, safety, and quality of flavor. But how do you choose from the astonishing number of options now available?

How Does Vaporization Work?

Before we get into specific brand recommendations (and we will later on), we’re going to give you a brief primer on vaporizer types to help you narrow your search down. Each vaporizer type caters to different lifestyles and budgets, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself on the basics before committing to one.

Table-Top Vaporizers

Two table-top cannabis vaporizers on a wooden table

Refers to: Larger vaporizers that plug into a power source
Ideal for: Homebodies, flavor enthusiasts, medical patients

Portability: If you’re the type of person who only indulges at home, your best option is likely a table-top vaporizer. Due to their size and dependence on a wall outlet, this vaporizer probably won’t leave your house often, if at all. They generally come with a hose-like mouthpiece or a bag that fills with the vapor so you can inhale at your own pace. These stationary vapes aren’t exactly ideal for the one-hit-and-done type of person, but they’re excellent options for sharing and for those who’d normally conquer a full bowl by themselves.

Functionality: Though often too clunky to conveniently lug around, these setups tend to offer the most advanced technology among vaporizers. But, of course, it depends on how much you’re willing to invest. Some of the better devices can cost several hundred dollars but offer precise and adjustable temperature control. This is important as different cannabinoids and terpenes – all with their own unique effects and medical benefits – vaporize at different temperatures. Also, if you’re a fiend for good flavor, a nice table-top vaporizer will go a long way. Cheaper ones can make your bud taste like burnt popcorn, but high-quality devices tend to deliver vapor that stays true to the flower’s natural aroma.

Quality of Effects: The precise temperature control also allows you to get more of the flower’s cannabinoids and terpenes, so the effect profile may change depending on which ones you’re aiming for. Use this guide to help you determine what terpenes and cannabinoids you should target and at what temperature to set your vaporizer at to achieve them – for example, the terpene pinene helps with alertness and memory and vaporizes at 311°F. Play around with temperatures to see how it changes your experience!

Vaping vs. Dabbing: Why You Should Care About Heat

Portable Flower Vapes

Two portable cannabis flower vaporizers next to a grinder filled with ground cannabis on a wooden table

Refers to: Smaller, battery-powered vaporizers with a chamber for cannabis flower
Ideal for: On-the-go flower enthusiasts

Portability: Generally speaking, portability is about the only reason you’d invest in a portable flower vape over a stationary table-top device. Because they’re small and run on a battery, these vaporizers don’t restrict you to one spot at home.

Functionality: While these vaporizers have the advantage of portability, their functionality is often more limited. Many flower vaporizers heat the flower at a single fixed temperature which may be too hot if you’re trying to get more of those flavorful terpenes. Some permit you manipulate the heat but may not allow you to choose a specific temperature. Flower vapes may grant more customization with specific strains compared to portable oil pens, which sometimes offer strain-specific oils but are often blends of many different strains.

Quality of Effects: Although portable vapes don’t often give you the temperature control found in table-top devices, they can still capture some of the nuances of each unique strain. Portable vaporizers with some level of temperature customization are often preferred to those without, as they can be turned down if the product tastes burnt or turned up if you aren’t getting a full enough vapor.

The Vaporizer Buyer's Guide: 4 Things to Consider

Portable Oil Vapes

Two portable cannabis concentrate vaporizers on a wooden table

Refers to: Small, battery-powered vaporizers that use oil instead of flower
Ideal for: On-the go concentrate enthusiasts, small budgets

Portability: Preferred for their portability and discretion, portable oil vapes are perfect for the mobile oil enthusiast. Some don’t require loading or unloading product – it all comes neatly contained in a sealed oil cylinder. However, others can be filled with your own cannabis oil.

Functionality: Vaporizers that look just like a pen or a stylus are gaining popularity because the battery is inexpensive and the CO2 oil inside them hits smoothly and lasts a long time. Some have had issues with battery life and leakage, but this these are generally rare malfunctions. Vaporizers that require you to load your own oils can be great alternatives for those without access to cartridge pens, but sometimes getting the right consistency of oil can be tricky.

Quality of Effects: You may notice that the CO2 oil in cartridge pens offers distinctly different effects from other types of cannabis oil. For some, the high is often more cerebrally-focused with fewer body effects, although these sensations vary across brands and strains. Cartridge oils are often diluted with propylene glycol (also used in e-cigarettes), a solvent used to achieve the right consistency for vaping. These solvents are not a concern for non-cartridge vaporizers; it’s up to you which oil you decide to put in them.

Now that you’ve learned the basics of vaporizer types, look out for our next article with specific brand recommendations. Do you have a favorite brand or type of vaporizer? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section!

What’s your preferred type of vaporizer?

The Best Dab Rig for You

Dabbing is evolving fast, and it seems like every other day there’s a new tool, technique, or technology. One day it’s nothing but titanium nails, torches, and BHO; the next it’s quartz bangers, e-nails, and rosin. Its rapid evolution can be a lot to keep up with, and if you’re like me, you probably switch up how you dab depending on what the situation calls for.

What is Dabbing and How Do Dabs Work?

When a friend visits and wants to socialize over fresh-squeezed rosin, my preferences are much different than when I get home from a long day and prefer to have everything set up and ready for me to unwind. And when I’m dabbing on the go, I need a rig that’s portable and efficient while still providing the full dabbing experience. After many personal trials and tests, I’ve nailed down my favorite ways to dab and the tools needed to get the most out of every drop of oil.

Daily Rigs for Regular Dabbing

Cannabis concentrate "dabbing" tools: electric nail, enail, concentrate container, and glass dab rig

The daily driver is your go-to piece, so it should be functional, sturdy, and easy to clean. The key to this setup for me is the electric nail, or “e-nail.” I use the MiniNail because it’s small, offers precise temperature control, and doesn’t require the use of a torch. I’s always hot and ready when I want to dab or pass one to a friend.

This setup is perfect for high-volume dabs in social settings or for dialing in your preferred settings for low-temperature dabs. The only downside is that is that you’re limited by the cable length and the need for electric power.

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Dabs and Cannabis Extracts

Quartz Buckets for the Dab Connoisseur

Cannabis concentrate "dabbing" tools: small blow torch, concentrate container, and glass dab rig

A setup like this is perfect for getting the smoothest, most flavorful dab. When it comes to flavor, I prefer quartz buckets known as bangers because they don’t interfere with the natural terpene profile of the saps and shatters that I dab. The deep bucket can handle large amounts of concentrate without a mess, and the clear aesthetic is much cleaner on artistic glass and heady rigs.

The one drawback to this setup is that it uses a torch. While there are some attachments that will allow you to use an electric nail with your quartz bucket, I’ve found that the cord attachments can cause some chaos. So I stick with my STOK R-Series double-barrel torch. It has two side-by-side barrels that help heat the bucket quickly and evenly.

How to Dab Cannabis Concentrates

E-Rigs for the Dabber on the Go

Cannabis concentrate Dr. Dabber Boost E-Rig

I’ve found it difficult when I’m traveling to achieve the same functionality I get from my daily-driver setup. Concentrate pens, even ones with percolator attachments, just don’t quite hit the mark. Luckily, new technologies marry the portability of concentrate pens with the capabilities of standard dab rigs. The result is electric oil rigs, or e-rigs. I use the Boost from Dr. Dabber because it offers the portable performance that I’m looking for. With just a few clicks of the power button, the nail is hot and ready in about 30 seconds, and the battery lasts a solid 40 to 50 dabs before it needs to be recharged.

The only shortcoming of e-rigs currently on the market is the size of the nails and the vapor chambers, which make it difficult to take more than a small dab at a time. It’s an understandable tradeoff given the mobility of e-rigs, and I expect this feature to evolve as the technology improves.

Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to the ideal way to dab. What’s yours? Share your dab setup in the comments and let everyone else know your favorite way to take the best dab.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Dabbing?