Will traditional forms of smoking cannabis become a thing of the past?
If current trends continue, we will probably see smoking basic weed disappear, maybe even in our lifetimes. Incrementally, across the country, more and more dispensaries are seeing cannabis consumers move away from smoking flower—aka plain old weed—as well as pre-rolled joints, and turn toward other, more “produced” versions of cannabis, such as beverages, concentrates, and edibles.
Whether folks are addressing a medical problem with cannabis, using the plant to get off opiates, or to stop smoking, many newly converted cannabis consumers have been attracted to the weed for health reasons. It is for this exact reason that these new stoners do not smoke, but instead use other forms. Their first experiences are often with pills, tinctures, edibles, and balms. And even if they do use an inhalable form of the plant, it’s usually a vape pen, filled with a golden goo that is a form of cannabis far removed from the original stinky green plant.
On the recreational front, it’s all about convenience and strength. Cannabis beverages containing stoney doses of THC are rapidly flooding the market, poised to not only take precedence in the realm of weed, but in the world of intoxicating beverages. And if people aren’t reaching for a Nugweiser or a Pepsi Blue Dream, they’re reaching for edibles.
Many recreational users are also looking for a seriously stronger and longer-lasting high than what mere smoking can offer, creating a gold-rush atmosphere in the world of concentrates. These also provide a unique opportunity to work with isolated elements of cannabis—like just the terpenes, which are of particular interest to chefs diving into the world of canna-cuisine as well as to cannabis connoisseurs looking for the very tastiest of highs.
When it comes to a need or desire to be subtle, old-fashioned smoking is… well, not. Many folks simply don’t want to attract attention to their cannabis use, and literally every other method of ingestion is less obvious that smoking. It’s also way easier to stash a tin of THC mints than a 3-foot bong while the in-laws are visiting.
On a deeper industry level, more growers are providing more product, and more celebrity product lines are entering the market. Both situations are working to drive the price of flower down, removing much of the profit around average old flower.
And while I realize that any kind of smoking—even weed—is still inhaling particulates (and we Seattleites know all about this after dealing with the summer fire season), and thus inherently not good for you, I have to be honest: I don’t like the idea of being so removed from the original form of cannabis. I want to break open nugs and see the crystals. I want to smell the chlorophyll. I want to touch the plant material. Maybe I’m just a romantic, but there is nothing like crumbling some stinky bud, rolling a j, and taking that first sweet, stinky, acrid hit. Watching the smoke twist between your fingers, absent-mindedly puffing away while writing, or, better yet, passing it between friends and lovers. Most people I know don’t know how to roll a joint.
I wonder if future generations, or even stoners in just a few years, might not even get the option to handle real plant parts—if the industry might interject itself so much that we literally have to consume cannabis in some prepackaged form. Convenience is awesome, but I think we should all get green cards, just the same.