The hand-held vape: small, hideable, and odorless
I was sitting with a group of friends at a low table in a new Lower East Side spot — you know, one of those places where the cocktails are front and center, and the pallid food menu seems like an afterthought. I won’t mention the name. As we sat, a gal I’d known for quite a while who works as an interior designer pulled out a small square object, put her head down slightly, and began sucking on it slowly and deliberately.
Thinking it was a medical inhaler, I blurted out sympathetically, “Gee, I didn’t know you had asthma.”
“I don’t,” she replied, straightening up and tucking the object down between her legs. “It’s a vape.”
I must have registered befuddlement, because she went on, “You know, a vaporizer. Like the Volcano, only small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and made of wood instead of stainless steel.” I recalled the absurdity and unwieldiness of the Volcano, which required you to inhale the vapor from a giant plastic bag that looked like an elephant condom. You certainly couldn’t do that in a restaurant.
As she spoke, she extracted the device and passed it to the next person. At her direction, he pushed the silver AA battery into the slot and inhaled. At neither usage had I smelled anything. Was it now really possible to smoke pot in a crowded room with no one detecting it? Apparently so.
Back in the pre-Giuliani days, you could smoke marijuana while walking down the street, and every rock club in town was filled with a thick cloud of the stuff. But under Giuliani and police chief Bratton, the idea was developed that such “quality of life crimes” must be vigorously combated, under the theory that miscreants responsible for the most minor offenses were also those who eventually committed major crimes. And thus were citizens thrown in jail overnight — but rarely indicted or prosecuted — for ridiculous infractions. I met a guy who was arrested for drinking a beer on the stoop of his house. The same craziness continues under Bloomberg.
When the vape got to me, I had a chance to make an examination. It was a small wooden box with a big hole on one end and a small hole on the other. A miniature glass pipette serving as a mouthpiece went in the big hole, while the small hole admitted air to the chamber as you pulled. Inside was a trough-shaped screen in which the weed is put, with a plastic shield fitted over it. A large hole on the side accommodates a battery. When the battery is pushed in, an element under the screen beings to glow. And then you draw on the pipe as the cannabis vaporizes.
“Gee, how much does this thing cost?” I asked my friend as I exhaled a thin vapor that could barely be seen. As I did so, none of the customers surrounding our table looked around, which they surely would have done if they’d smelled something.
“This is the deluxe model, and I got it online for $100,” she replied.
Later, as we walked toward Greenwich Village, we stopped in a head shop and discovered that two models of the vape were being sold, a cheaper one not quite as well made for $100, and hers for $110, both plus tax.
Although the idea of surreptitiously passing a pipe in a restaurant undetected is an appealing one, it’s not for me. I need to pay attention to what I’m eating.
Read about the strangeness that is Cannabis Caramel Corn.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 12, 2012