Up in Smoke

Advice on the best smoking device for newbies

So you bought an ounce of weed and don't know what to do with it?

If your fingers aren't nimble enough to roll a joint and a gravity bong scares the bejesus out of you, fear not. The smoking paraphernalia industry revolutionized long before states like Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana.

"Smoking technology has changed," says Justin Wilson, owner of the Spokane recreational dispensary Satori. "And there are definitely a lot of people coming back to the market and first-time smokers."

Wilson and his staff encourage newbies to smoke with water filtration devices such as water pipes — aka bongs — or vaporizers.

"Water helps filter carcinogens in the smoke," he says. "Vaporizers are the healthiest way to do it because they heat up to a level that reacts with the THC, the active ingredient in weed, but doesn't burn the plant matter."

Vaporizers turn the active ingredients into a light, inhalable mist which is consumed through a hose or an inflated bag. The devices either plug into an electrical outlet or are charged with batteries. They can be quite large — tabletop size — or small and portable. Smokers claim the effect is more of a body high than a head high.

If you aren't ready to make the financial leap into a vaporizer — anywhere from $150 to $500 — and you want an immediate head high, Wilson says a water pipe is the way to go. He recommends pipes from a Spokane collective of glass artists called Funky Buddha Glass (funkybuddhaglass.com).

Despite a cultural stigma around ostentatious 2-foot-long bongs, Wilson says small, discreet water pipes in the $50 price range are becoming more popular.

"There is kind of a new trend in water pipes; they are going back to small," he says, claiming the pipe he uses at home is around 6 inches tall. "It's kinda like what Apple did for a while. Pipes are smaller and smaller, but getting better and better." ♦