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I am approaching middle age, though I suppose that all depends on how long I end up living for. In any case, I have been smoking and ingesting cannabis since my early teenage years, and I thoroughly enjoy roasting big spliffs, as well as smoking Sherlock-style pipes and making faces like a British intellectual.

That’s not an excerpt from a dating profile. Rather, I am sharing such personal info to provide some context for the discussion I’m about to have with you, dear reader, about dabbing—heating and inhaling concentrated marijuana. Because when it comes to heating concentrates at extremely high temperatures, people basically fall into one of two camps: They have either barely heard of dabbing and would be totally horrified to learn that young people often include blowtorches in their paraphernalia pouches these days; or they hit the pipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have a flat-brimmed hat with their stoner handle airbrushed on the crown.

Then there are a few of us in the middle minority, who love to dab but just can’t fit the sessions into our daily routine. In my case, the whole torch element completely freaks the hell out of my partner, and so for the short time I spent using a traditional rig, I had to descend a dark staircase and pull tubes in the uncomfortable confines of my basement. I already felt like a casual meth addict, lighting my shatter (weed concentrate) with a flame-thrower on my living-room coffee table, and my excommunication to the basement stopped my fascination with wax in its tracks. After I cracked the female joint receptor with my banger (look it up—you’ll need to learn the lingo eventually), I quietly retired from the game.

However, I wound up being gifted a few grams of wax and shatter, so I headed to my latest vape shop with eyes on some kind of an affordable—as well as compact, if possible—solution. The answer to my prayers in every way came from Yocan.

Makers of what seems like a new cutting-edge vaporization device every week, the Chinese company is gaining a major foothold in the U.S. head-shop market. Considering that models it produces diligently do every last thing that products that cost literally six times more can do, it’s no surprise they are becoming increasingly ubiquitous.

Of the many Yocan choices in the $29.99 to $59.99 range, I went for the Evolve Plus XL in pink for $49.99. It seems like a freakishly odd vibrator-type item until you pull all the parts off and put them back together again. First, there’s a magnetic hood that serves as the nipple-esque mouthpiece and a barrier between your lips and high temps. Lift that off, and you will find coils housed in a disposable cylindrical metal container with a top that screws off. (This critical part and its lid are roughly the same shape and size of one of those metal keychain pill containers often sold on counters at chain drug stores.)

You simply use whatever dabber tool or scalpel to scoop out no more than about half an average pinkie nail’s worth of your concentrate; drop it on or in between the four adjacent coils; then screw the top back on followed, by the magnetic hat. Then you hold down the button … and let ’er rip. It’s that insanely easy. I have even been wearing my piece as a convenient necklace, or really more like a medallion. According to one friend, it’s the coolest accessory since Matthew McConaughey’s belt buckle bowl in Dazed and Confused.

I know what you’re thinking: No, Yocan didn’t pay us to write nice things about them. This is the Coachella Valley Independent, not High Times. With that said, here’s the company’s own radical description of one of the coil styles you can purchase:

Four times the rods plus four times the coils mean four times the fun. Enjoy big clouds that’s similarly big on flavor. The Yocan Evolve Plus XL Coils is everything but discreet. It was made for occasions where being stealthy is the last thing you want to be. Simply put that the Yocan Evolve Plus XL Coils was made for the loudest and proudest vape enthusiast—the kind who wants to blot out the scene with visible and heavy clouds of vapor. This daunting feat is made possible because of the quad coil technology in every Yocan Evolve Plus XL Coils.

Is there anything not great about these Yocan toys? Honestly, not that I see. There are some consumables—specifically the coil can—that have to be replaced every few weeks or so, depending on how much you indulge. You’ll also want to avoid keeping wax or anything that melts in the built-in storage container in the scorching hot weather, as it will leak out all over your shit. But that’s, of course, the case with virtually anything you’re dealing with on the dab-tastic frontier. The bottom line is that Yocan has developed a line of cheap and easy-to-use dab devices—and you should get your sticky paws on one as soon as possible.

This piece originally appeared in DigBoston.

Published in Cannabis in the CV

Last month in this space, I illustrated how things are not always as they seem regarding the different types of CBDs on the market.

This month, I want to expand on that same topic—because understanding CBD on a deeper level is important. It can save you time and money, and you can make sure you’re getting the product you need.

As I noted last month: CBD isolate may be pure CBD, but that does not mean it will work for you. When you isolate CBDs, plant elements such as terpenes, fatty acids, oils and lipids are removed—and those things help CBDs work in the body.

The same thing goes for distillate CBDs: These products are often distilled three different times, and each time, critical synergistic ingredients are taken out.

The same thing does not go for CBDs made using whole plant technology. The CBD is extracted using alcohol or ethanol, and the process is done only once, leaving in those needed terpenes, fatty acids, etc. The resulting oil may not be as pretty—it’s usually darker—but your body is not looking for prettiness; it’s more concerned about the synergistic effectiveness.

A new trend in CBD involves using technology to isolate CBD, and then putting whole-plant oil back in. This backward process is unnecessary and a waste of time, because whole plant technology works just fine—and the multiple steps mean there’s more of a possibility of introducing toxins into the mix.

Many CBD manufacturers use less-than-ideal cultivars (strains). Using the right cultivar is key to producing a product that tastes good, smells good and has all the effective properties the body needs. Another problem involves the use of THC-dominant cultivars over hemp. Yes, THC-dominant cannabis has CBD in it, but the THC is dominant and can counteract the CBD. Yeah, you can remove the THC, usually by using heat or burning—during which the CBD molecules can be compromised. On the other hand, CBDs derived from the proper hemp plants (usually female) don’t need this type of processing.

To sum this all up … CBDs produced from female hemp plants using whole-plant technology are the best way to go, in all likelihood.

When researching a CBD product, remember to look on the manufacturer’s website and/or ask for certifications for organic growth, production and extraction. If the manufacturer can provide you with those three things, it should also have no problem providing a Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA will tell you the percentage of the CBDs, heavy metals, pesticides, products used in the growing process, THC levels, molds, mildews, chemicals and preservatives. Any reputable company will be proud to provide the certifications, because they are proud of their products. If you find a certificate that mentions isolates or another process, beware; the manufacturer may not be properly informed. Those who are using research produced out of Israel and Colorado are best informed. Ask the questions, and make sure you are getting the right answers.

One great way to find out about CBDs, treatments and current research is to visit www.projectcbd.org. Consumers can find a beginner’s guide and research specific conditions; the site will explain in detail the current research on those conditions and the current treatments using CBD.

This is a budding industry (pun intended), and there are many snake-oil salesmen out there peddling their wares, with some of these products winding up in large chains and retail establishments. Taking a moment to ask the right questions will ensure you do not get duped and that you get the best results from the CBD product you purchase.

Robin Goins is a business consultant for DR.G Consulting and works extensively in the cannabis industry in the Coachella Valley. For more information, visit www.drrobingoins.com.

Published in Cannabis in the CV

Spending an afternoon or evening cooking with friends feeds both hunger and the soul—and adding cannabis to the mix can add a whole other layer of sociability and relaxation.

For many home cooks, the idea of first creating cannabis oil or butter, and then making edibles, can seem daunting. In theory, you could simply throw some raw flower into any dish—but doing so would not fully activate the THC, and it would probably leave you with some funky-tasting food. Beyond the time and work involved, the inconsistency of marijuana strength and the amount (and, therefore, the expense) of marijuana it can take lead most people to decide to consume only prepackaged edibles. I think is a shame.

If you have never cooked with cannabis, there are a few things you need to know before you begin. Let’s start with how much cannabis you want to use: A limited amount of cannabinoids—the active ingredients in the marijuana plant that include both CBD and THC—will dissolve in the oil. (By the way, in this piece, we’re using the words oil, butter and fat interchangeably.) By adding too much weed to your oil, you are simply wasting money and product. An ounce of cannabis infused into 16 ounces of butter or oil will give you a potent product that can later be cut with more fat as necessary. For my favorite lemon loaf, for instance, I use about two tablespoons of cannabis butter, and four tablespoons of regular butter.

Before using cannabis oil in a recipe, it must first be decarboxylated, a process that makes the THC into a substance that has intoxicating effects—not unlike how fermentation changes grape juice into wine. Heat is the fastest and most-effective method for creating this effect. So, when making cannabis-infused oil, temperature is vital: If your oil is too cool, the cannabinoids will either not all be released, or not released at all. If it’s too hot, you will vaporize your cannabinoids, losing potency and money.

Many people begin this process in a low-temperature oven (245 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30 minutes, mixing the buds every 10 minutes or so, before coarsely grinding and transferring the buds into a slow-cooker with the oil, at 160-200 degrees, for three hours. But honestly … I hate this method. The time in the oven makes the entire house smell, which is not a major concern when we can have our doors and windows open—but come summer, when the house is shut up tight in 110-degree-plus temps, this is just not acceptable. Also: The amount of “active cooking” time is not practical for someone with a busy life. Finally, the unknowns around temperature make it difficult to get a consistent product.

Luckily, there is a great solution: the consumer grade sous-vide machine. Home cooks everywhere are discovering the joys of the precise time and temperature offered with this bath-cooking method. A sous-vide machine—several great brands are on the market for less than $200, including the Anova, which I use—allows you to place a sealed bag or canning jar in a water bath, with that water holding within a degree plus or minus, for as long as you need. Obviously, there is an initial cost, but once you have the cooker, you can use it for all sorts of cooking projects—and you’ll save money in the long run, because you’ll be making better, more-consistent oils.

You can “decarb” your flowers using a sealed bag under water, set to 203 degrees, for one hour. Then you coarse-grind the product, and place it and the fat in a sealed canning jar; put that in a water bath set to 185 degrees for four hours—and you are done. The beauty of the sous-vide system is that it can run without being monitored, so feel free to run errands or take a nap.

Once you have infused your cannabis oil, you will need to strain it. If you aren’t fond of the herbaceously green flavor of most homemade cannabis butters, I recommend lining a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth, and letting gravity do the work. Don’t worry about getting every drop of oil out of the plant material; if you squeeze the cloth too hard, you will only succeed in getting lots of plant dust and chlorophyll in your oil, which gives it an off-putting flavor.

Even if you use the sous-vide machine, you’ll have spent a lot of time and energy making your lovely cannabis oil. Now it’s time to use it—but first, I recommend consuming a quarter-teaspoon of oil before you really start cooking; wait about an hour, and see how it affects you. You can then make some educated guesses about the dose that works for you.

Check out sousweed.com for lots of recipes. The lemon cake mentioned at the beginning of this article is delicious when made with fresh lemons; I skip the medicated bitters and use limoncello.

Enjoy!

Published in Cannabis in the CV