The march of medical marijuana and now the legalization of pot in two states has touched off an arms race in connoisseur-grade cannabis paraphernalia. From sleek iPhone apps to gas-free lighters, beefy grinders, vegan papers, and scientific jars, this is a whole different kind of Space Race.
Free (iOS, Android)
Weed used to just be weed: Either you had some or you didn't. Now the choices are mind-boggling. It's time to educate yourself and others on major strains with this free app for iPhone and Android made by Leafly. The Orange County-based company behind the app (and website) has created the world's largest, best-looking cannabis strain resource, allowing users to browse by strain name, type (indica, sativa, or hybrid), effect, and rating. The database contains more than five hundred unique strains, so when someone offers you some "King Louis" you can note the monarch of buds is considered a powerful, well-liked indica known to relieve insomnia (not exactly appropriate for staying in the mix at a holiday party). Leafly's map can locate desired strains nearby, and the dispensary finder can point you in the right direction as well.
Mendo Mulcher Grinder
It always trips us out when we see folks grab a nug, mash it into a pipe, and start blasting away at it with a butane flame — that's savagery. The flame barely singes the outer layer of the dense nug, resulting in a thin, butane-drenched pull. The bowl also never cherries, and the pipe gets clogged with tarred greens. If you or someone you know does this, buy them a grinder — it will change their life. Our favorite is the Mendo Mulcher, which is made out of billet aluminum 6061-T6 bar stock. This thing's got heft, durability, and grinding power, sporting a magnetic lid and twice the number of teeth as the competition. Plop in a cola, give the Mulcher a few twists, and out comes fragrant green mulch. A pinch in a pipe goes a long way because the Mendo Mulcher creates more surface area for combustion. Bowls cherry quickly and easily, so you're puffing on plants, not petrol byproducts.
Embur Electronic Lighter
This may be taking it too far, but for conscientious smokers with money to burn, we recommend the Embur — the original, cordless electronic lighter. About the size of a roll of quarters, with a ceramic heating element sticking out of it, the Embur uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery to heat its ceramic tip to a red-hot 1,400 degrees. Touch the hot Embur to a bowl of greens to ignite the cannabis without exposing it to the butane of a lighter. Excessive? Maybe. But then again, butane is neurotoxic, and medical cannabis is supposed to be, you know, medical. Looking for a recreational justification? Cigar aficionados have long frowned upon the use of butane lighters on a good Cohiba.
Jaspen Rolling Papers
Are those Zig-Zags vegan? Be prepared for such questions now that the arms race in connoisseur rolling papers has begun. Bringing out the big guns is Jaspen Papers, which makes its rolling papers in Austria from sustainably harvested, ultra-premium pulp. Jaspen uses plant-based acacia tree gum glue instead of animal-based glues, making it vegan and "cruelty-free." No freaky flavors or odd sizes here, either. Just 100 pages per booklet of 69 millimeter old-school-style single wides. Three percent of the independent, New Mexico-based company's net profits go to environmental and social causes.
Herb Preserve Jars
$20 for XXX OG model
Cannabis is a seasonal plant that can last up to a year if kept in a cool, dark contamination-free location. Herb Preserve's XXX OG jar takes care of the dark and contamination-free part with a black screwtop container that holds up to a half-ounce — perfect for that top-shelf you want to hoard until the holiday moochers go home. Herb Preserve's black glass blocks out light, and the screw cap is made of heavy-duty plastic with a foam liner to lock in odor. The half-ounce XXX OG size is small enough for travel yet big enough to hold a serious stash. Herb Preserve also makes smaller sizes for concentrates, taller models for pre-rolls, as well as a four-ounce "apothecary" jar with glass-on-glass top for serious storage.
Even the most conscientious toker is going to end up with some overly dry herb at some point, which is a bummer. Marijuana likes to be around 6 percent moisture by dry weight, but when it gets too dry it turns brown, loses its smell, crumbles to dust in your grinder, and burns so fast the smoke becomes foul and harsh. Humidipaks (sold by Boveda Inc.) rehab your weed by restoring it to optimal moisture level. Cigar manufacturers and instrument makers have been using them for years. About the size of a sugar packet, Humidipaks contain certain salts mixed with water that naturally regulate the relative humidity inside a container. They come in relative humidities of 62-75 percent and provide two-way humidity control to add or remove moisture without contaminating herb. Plop one in your jar and it'll freshen a stash overnight. The Boveda packs last two to four months.