His taste for the finest things in life extends to how he consumes his herb — with state-of-the-art accessories.

Serious connoisseurship is like an infection—a pleasurable one—that eventually spreads to every area of life. My friend Lazarus (not his real name) was afflicted with the disease at a young age, and his case is now very advanced. The only scotch he drinks is The Macallan 18, unless he can find a rare bottle of Springbank 21, which will set him back $294. He can’t listen to audio equipment unless it recreates the sensation of a live performance. (This is accomplished with Dahlquist DQ10 speakers, renovated and retooled with new drivers and a 25-year-old Sota Sapphire turntable). Cigars are Churchills, produced by the Cuban company Romeo and Julietta. But the smokes aren’t enough—he also must have the cedar matches, the humidor, the cutter, the accoutrements that turn smoking from a mere pleasure into a refined ritual.

A friend introduced Lazarus to a handheld vaporizer, which gave him new appreciation for herb. “Getting wasted isn’t of interest,” he says. “I’m looking for enhancement.”

Ditto his recently reignited relationship to cannabis. As a young man in the ’80s, Lazarus honed his palate on the finest cannabis strains of the day: Thai Stick, Maui Wowie, Humboldt County indicas and most memorably, blocks of black Afghani hash stamped with a gold-leafed “AK 47” and captioned with the phrase, “Smoke Russians Away.” (Remember, the U.S. supported the Jihadists against the Russians before everything went pear-shaped; were those words not written by the CIA?). He indulged for years but quit in 2000 when West Coast super-high THC strains began to make him anxious.

A year-and-a-half ago, a friend introduced Lazarus to a handheld vaporizer, which gave him new appreciation for herb. “The fact that I could limit my dose was very appealing,” he told me. “I could take a hit, wait a few minutes to see how I felt, and then take more if I wanted. All without combusting any plant matter. Also, my relationship to smoking had changed. Getting wasted isn’t of interest. I’m looking for enhancement, which doesn’t require smoking large amounts. With a vaporizer it’s like I’m smoking 1/10th of a joint.”

Cera vape
The Cera Vape

The only downside is the look, which resembles a sex toy.

Before purchasing, this cannaisseur needed to investigate what materials made up these instruments. Are the heating coils made of stainless steel or plastic, Are they made in China where safety regulation is lax and, if so, could cheap materials damage his lungs? Is there such a thing as a medical-grade vaporizer? “Safety, purity, durability—in the future these are all going to be thought about much, much more,” he says. Below are some of the objects currently occupying the top shelf of his cannabis cabinet.

The Cera Vape from Thermo Essence Technologies is made of super-strong zirconium ceramic, titanium and stainless steel—and is capable of heating as high as 3,500 degrees. The vapor pathway is ceramic, and the chamber that holds the concentrate is stainless steel and titanium, reportedly medical grade. It’s hand-assembled in the U.S. with U.S.-sourced materials and backed by a lifetime guarantee. “I’ve tried vape pens from China, and you could taste the plastic in the vapor, which isn’t pleasant considering plastics are made from petroleum and I don’t want to inhale petroleum products,” Lazarus says. “I didn’t visit their manufacturing facility in California to verify their quality—I’m not that crazy—although I did think about it.” The only downside is the look, which resembles a sex toy. But that being said, “it’s simple, feels solid, and the vapor intensity can be anything from mild to as intense as a dab.” $250-$550

The Davinci Ascent “This handheld vaporizer is all glass inside, which guarantees a clean smoke. It can be used for oils and concentrates and it comes with cool little jars that slot neatly into the lower half of the device, which makes it very easy to operate. But I use it for flowers. I get maximum flavor and the vapor is light. It’s also handsome, easy to clean, and fits well in the hand—about the size of two iPhones.” $249

Magic Box vaporizer
The Magic Flight LaunchBox

The instructions in the “Flight Guide” are fun to read: “Remember: The slower the kiss, the hotter the box.”

Magic Flight LaunchBox “I love this little handheld box. I like the wood. The screen is very high-quality—that keeps the cannabis suspended in the airflow path. I like that you can also control the temperature in an old fashioned way by pushing in the lithium ion battery to ignite it. No dials, no buttons. Oh, and it comes with a nifty little brush for easy cleaning, which means they really thought about the process from start to finish.” The most recent iteration of Magic Flight has a grinder that fits neatly atop the bowl (so no mess) and a 15-inch tube that allows the vapor to cool before hitting the lungs. Oh, and the instructions in the “Flight Guide” are fun to read. Here’s how they describe the relationship between inhalation and optimum temperature: “When your draw rate slows, the temperature increases . . . Remember: The slower the kiss, the hotter the box.” $119

Aromed Stationary vape “is a Swiss made vaporizer that heats the “herbal medications,” as they say, with a high-intensity halogen light bulb that is computer-controlled to stabilize the temperature. When you draw, the temp goes down and the light dims. When it’s reheating the light brightens so it gives you feedback and it interacts with you. It also cools the vapor through a water filter, which removes dust and other particles. The Aromed claims to have the best vapor quality of any vaporizer. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can taste a huge difference in flavor. I swear I can detect more of the terpenes [the minor cannabinoids that produce smell and flavor].” Bonus: It’s an aesthetic winner, sculptural in a chemistry class sort of way. About $500

Lazarus rarely smokes joints anymore, but when he does, he prefers rolling them in banana-leaf papers, which a friend sends to him from Asia.

The Arizer Solo “I’m hearing that the two major compounds in cannabis, THC and CBD, vaporize at different temps. THC is 370 degrees. CBD vapes at 390 degrees. I’m liking my CBD these days [CBD is the other major compound in cannabis. It’s less psychoactive than THC and more a mood elevator] and I want to be sure I get optimum output. The Arizer lets me set the temperature between anywhere between 120-410. It also comes with a tube that allows you to fill one of those large balloons with vape, just in case you want to wow your friends with a little old school vapor action. Again, it’s all glass on the inside and so the taste is very clean.” $224

Diamond marijuana grider
The Diamond Grinder

Diamond Grinder “I started with a stainless steel grinder, the Smart Crusher, because fluffier cannabis is best suited to vaporization. The Smart Crusher has one main chamber and another screen if you want to catch kif, which I never use. It was just okay, so I looked around. Wood grinders don’t work and many of them are coated with polyurethane, which can flake off in your flowers. Not good. Aluminum grinders are linked to diseases and will also rub off on your herb so I nixed them, and plastic grinders are known for prongs that chip or break off. Finally, I found the Diamond. It’s made of polycarbonate polymer, which is food grade and durable, and it grinds the herb evenly to a fluffy consistency. The only problem is that grinding is still too messy. You have to do it over something like a book or a plate because it always leaves crumbs. I don’t like crumbs.” $14

Lazarus rarely smokes joints anymore—“only in supremely social moments”—but when he does, he prefers rolling them in banana-leaf papers, which a friend in Asia occasionally sends to him. And he cleans all devices with 99% ethyl alcohol, which is slightly less poisonous than isopropyl alcohol. After ethyl, he rinses everything thoroughly with filtered water, because “there’s always a trace.”

Have cannabis products for review? Contact Joe Dolce at cannaisseur@joedolce.com.