Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
Cannabis is quickly going to the nerds. As it gradually becomes legal around the world, startups have responded with innovative products from laser-powered water bongs to CNC machined vapes to AI-powered herb grinders. Got a friend who wants to get a bit fancy with it? Give’m the gift of high-tech consumption.
Please consume responsibility.
Throughout 2021, cannabis companies made major strides on the back of unprecedented consumer demand. Companies like Dutchie and Jane Technologies raised hundreds of millions in new venture financing, leading to industry investments climbing 82% in the second half of 2021. Others companies like Leafly and Agrify turned to public markets to raise new capital. Amazon stopped screening employees for marijuana, and Apple started treating cannabis as it does with pharmaceuticals and started letting users order and pay for cannabis in apps (in places where that’s legal).
There’s high hopes for cannabis in 2022. Cannabis is now legal for use in 36 states, and there’s traction in Washington that could end its federal prohibition.
The Puffco Budsy is a fantastic discrete water bong, and it’s nearly invisible thanks to the Nalgene-style bottle. Just throw some water in the bottle, pack flower in the hidden bowl and hit the trails. When you’re ready, flip up the lid, hit the bud with a lighter and inhale from the spout (which is thankfully not connected to the water). Rinse and repeat. Puffco released the Budsy on April 1, 2021 but it wasn’t a joke. This product is real, and it’s a lot of fun.
Roger Volodarsky founded the company in 2013 and has since led the company as CEO. Over the last several years, the company has kept pushing forward into innovative dabbing products. The Puffco Peak Pro (below) even features interchangeable ovens to allow owners to tailor their smoking experience without buying a new rig.
Price: $50 and up
Dynavaps are my go-to smoking device. They’re pocketable, batteryless and produce a great cloud of vapor. Think of it as a one-hitter vape with a thermometer. First, heat the tip with a torch or induction heater. In about 3-5 seconds, the cap will click, notifying the user that the herb is at the right temperature and ready to hit. The cannabis lasts about 3-4 cycles. Best yet, since the cap protects the ground flower from the flame, there’s no combustion or smoke — just vapor — and there’s very little smell.
Dynavap vaporizers are CNC machined in the company’s De Forest, Wisconsin facility. George Breiwa started the company in 2015 and currently employs around 40 people. Dynvap sells several versions of the little metal vape, including this stately “gentleman’s pipe” and the sleek, all-black Obsidium Omni for $250.
Price: $60 and up
The GPen Dash is the GoPro of vapes. This tiny vaporizer is impressive: It costs $70 and hits above its weight. The little vape has a glass-coated stainless steel heating chamber and a clean air path. The hits are smooth and plentiful. The GPen Dash is a great grab-and-go vape. Pictured here is one of the special versions; the company teamed with the nonprofit breast cancer prevention foundation Keep A Breast and made this limited edition.
Co-founder and CEO Chris Folkerts started Grenco Science with Anthony Barron in 2011. The company sells a wide range of vaporizers, including a portable dab rig and a battery-powered concentrate vaporizer for glass stems. In May 2020 Grenco Science acquired Stündenglass, a company founded by an ex-Apple employee that makes high-end gravity bongs.
There’s no tech here. The Blazy Susan isn’t, technically, a high-tech gift. I don’t care. This is my list. The Blazy Susan is just a lovely weed station with little compartments to hold different toking accoutrements. There’s a dab station, a bowl cleaner and silicon inserts to make cleaning a bit easier. Prices start at around $90 and are available in different types of wood.
The company was started by Will Breakell and is based out of Colorado. The company also sells rolling papers, cones, grinders and a bunch of merch — everything is pink and I love it.
Banana Bros’ OTTO AI-enabled Grinder
Surprise Guest! TC’s Amanda Silberling dropped by the gift guide to add this:
If you’re still using that cheap grinder you bought on Amazon, you’re probably wondering why anyone needs an AI-powered grinder. Here’s why: The OTTO considers the density, moisture level, texture and consistency of your flower, then adjusts the speed, pressure and even the grind direction. Then, the OTTO deposits the perfect ground flower into a magnetically attached chamber and evenly distributes it into a pre-rolled cone. The result is luxurious — so long as you’re not an elitist who thinks cones are a cop-out (but if you are, you can just use the grinder on its own).
Banana Bros says the OTTO can grind perfect herbs, spices and incense, but even though the grinder is easy to clean, you’d probably end up with slightly sedative cinnamon or strangely flavorful cones if you’re not careful. At $150, this thing isn’t cheap, but it gets the job done. Banana Bros was founded in 2017 by CEO Dave Richmond and Director of Innovation Manny Montano, whose background is in industrial and 3D design. They’ve patented the AI technology that powers the OTTO, which is the company’s first and flagship product.
Storz & Bickel Mighty+
The Mighty+ is the best vaporizer available. It’s reliable, can cook a lot of herb and produces some of the best vapor from any device. Sure, there are drawbacks, including its large size and $399 price, but it’s worth it. Storz & Bickel released the original in 2014 and just released the updated version in October 2021. The new Mighty+ features quicker heat-up time, USB-C recharging and a ceramic filling chamber that’s much easier to keep clean than the chamber in the original.
Quick tip: The Mighty+ features orange arrow buttons while the original’s are gray.
Markus Storz started working on a herbal vaporizer in 1996 and in 2002 Jürgen Bickel joined the board forming Storz-Bickel. The company still sells its original, groundbreaking device, the Volcano, and several less expensive products. The company is based in Germany, where its vaporizers carry medical device certifications. In 2018 Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth acquired Storz & Bickel. Jürgen Bickel remains at the company and runs the day-to-day operations.
Puffco Peak Pro
Into dabbing? The Puffco Peak Pro is the best portable dabbing rig available. It produces an amazing cloud of tasty vapor and feels like something designed in Cupertino. The Puffco Peak Pro constantly impresses me. The Pro version packs USB-C charging, an improved oven and easier cleaning. Plus, there’s an optional wireless charging stand that works very well. Want something more unique? The company sells a handful of special editions that feature wild color schemes and glass designs.
Roger Volodarsky founded the company in 2013 and has since led the company as CEO. Over the last several years, the company has kept pushing forward into innovative dabbing products. The Puffco Peak Pro even features interchangeable ovens to allow owners to tailor their smoking experience without buying a new rig.
Hitoki Trident V2
At its core, the $499 Hitoki Trident V2 is a battery-powered water bong. The trick? It uses a laser and sealed chamber to heat the flower. When the device works, it hits like a truck. I tested the Hitoki, and it’s finicky and requires a lot of cleaning. The hose attachment is low quality, and the laser blasts the herb into a smoldering mess. So why is it on this list? Because despite its drawbacks, the Hitoki is a fun device and can produce an impressive cloud without butane. Plus lasers. You get to watch the laser light the pot and make a miniature mushroom cloud.
Joe and Jack Tran started Hitoki in 2019. The Trident V2 is the company’s second version of the product. The V2 version includes a carb button, a larger laser burn radius and an improved airflow path.
The Stündenglass Kompact is a compact version of the amazing Stündenglass gravity bong. The $599 device is made of high-end materials and works very well. Trust me. I’ve used it, and it’s smooth, rich and impressive. The device isn’t just for cannabis. It’s also a fantastic hookah, and with the right attachments, it can be used to infuse food and drinks with a burst of smokey flavor. Want a bigger hit? The full-size Stündenglass is the same price but is much less portable.
Stündenglass was founded by Tracey Huston and purchased by Grenco Science in May 2020 for an undisclosed amount.