The Technology Of Marijuana Legalization

Matt Honan tests out a new vaporizer, the Firefly:

A personal disclosure: I’ve smoked a lot of pot. I’m no stoner, but I’ve been smoking it for more than 25 years, and in that time I’ve used all sorts of vaporizers. They’ve evolved a great deal over the years, from giant complex tabletop devices to today’s generation of e-cig-style vapes that deliver brain-hammering doses of butane-extracted cannabis oil. The Firefly does those devices one better, magically and almost instantly vaporizing actual plant material at the touch of a button. It is just wonderful.

It offers all the convenience of a pipe—it’s portable and downright stealthy; you can slip it in your pocket, carry it loaded up with marijuana—but it’s less harmful than a conventional pipe, because you are inhaling vapor, not smoke. The Firefly uses a lithium-ion battery to power a convection heating element that reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The chamber is insulated by air, which means the Firefly’s housing doesn’t get hot enough to burn your fingers, or anything else, when you slide it back into your pocket.

He looks more broadly at how legalization is spurring innovation:

For the science and technology set, it’s a classic opportunity to disrupt an industry historically run by hippies and gangsters. And the entire tech-industrial complex is getting in on the action: investors, entrepreneurs, biotechnologists, scientists, industrial designers, electrical engineers, data analysts, software developers. Industry types with experience at Apple and Juniper and Silicon Valley Bank and Zynga and all manner of other companies are flocking to cannabis with the hopes of creating a breakout product for a burgeoning legitimate industry. Maybe it’s the Firefly. Maybe it’s something still being developed in someone’s living room. There’s a truism about the gold rush days of San Francisco: It wasn’t the miners who got rich; it was the people selling picks and shovels. As the legalization trend picks up steam, Silicon Valley thinks it can make a better shovel.

Update from a reader:

There are all sorts of good stuff being produced out there since the legalization of medicinal marijuana. For Oregon patients, it’s now even available in beverage form: drinkvitonic.com. Their manufacturing process is quite precise, taking a lot of the uncertainty out of the actual dose that the consumer gets. Plus it’s delicious.

(Full disclosure: the producers are friends of mine)