Northwest Marijuana Guide
The Pax by Ploom is a high-tech, portable aluminum vaporizer that costs $250, and the Launch Box by Magic-Flight is a tiny wooden vaporizer that costs $120 to $150. Many people will stop reading right there, and that's a legitimate reaction. The simple act of smoking pot (or other aromatic herbs!) has to involve lithium-ion batteries and a bedside charger now? You'd be forgiven if you dismissed the whole thing and rolled up a joint on the underside of a Frisbee, like your grandma used to do.
But if you have a little extra cash or you're worried about your health, vaporizers deserve a look. Vaporizing is supposedly less harmful than smoking. It heats the material without a flame, so volatile and mood-enhancing elements are vaporized without releasing any smoke. You exhale only a little cloud of vapor that dissipates quickly. And they're windproof! Have you ever tried to light a bowl on a chairlift? Impossible. Vaporizer? No problem. That feature alone is worth the price.
The Pax is notable for its anodized aluminum body (it comes in black, purple, or blue), rechargeable battery, LED status indicator, ease of use, and high price. Click it on, wait for the pulsing light to turn green, and go to town. Give it a shake, and the light will tell you how much charge you have left. It's self-contained, one piece, neat and tidy. It has three temperature settings, but I have no idea which one to use. I leave it on the middle setting, which seems to work just fine.
The Launch Box has the complete opposite aesthetic. It's made of wood and clear acrylic, it's powered by AA batteries with their labels stripped off, and it has an inspirational quote about love engraved on the bottom. The price varies depending on the kind of wood and whether you want some kind of symbol etched into the acrylic top (note: You don't). The big practical downsides to the Launch Box are that you have to carry at least one battery and it doesn't hold a charge as long as the Pax. And you have to be careful with those stripped batteries—if they touch metal in your pocket, they could short out and start heating up. Despite the drawbacks, the Launch Box has a warm, charming, homemade feel, it's significantly cheaper, and it gets the job done.
Whether you side with the techies or the hippies, portable vaporizers are the way to go, particularly in this new world of legalization we find ourselves in. If you won't have to cheese it when the fuzz comes rollin', you can afford to have a nice piece of gear.