Weed tech heats up with a brand new good vaporizer from Apple, Microsoft alums


Warning: This story discusses mind-altering substances and know-how used to eat them. These substances are authorized in some locations however not in others. You should not do issues which might be unlawful — nothing right here endorses unlawful drug use.  

The corporate’s co-founder is an Apple alum. The flagship product is a $250 app-enabled good gadget in an rising class. The silver-bodied design provides it the look of a hanging assertion piece for contemporary houses.

It would sound like I am describing Nest, however I am actually describing Firefly, a weed tech startup based mostly in California. The product in query is not a wise thermostat that regulates the temperature in your house, however reasonably a good vaporizer that regulates the temperature of hashish with app-enabled precision. Out there for preorder this weekend and anticipated to begin delivery inside the subsequent month, it is referred to as the Firefly 2 Plus, and if the corporate’s nomenclature would not betray its Apple influences, its speaking factors actually will.

“We need to be the vaporizer for all individuals,” says Walden Alexander, Firefly’s director of world gross sales and distribution, “the best way the iPhone was the smartphone that bridged the hole between early adopters and mass adoption.”

Boasting simpler air consumption, a modest increase to battery life and a cheaper price than the Firefly 2 that got here earlier than it, the almost identical-looking Firefly 2 Plus is hardly a dramatic soar ahead for the model. It does, nonetheless be a part of a rising subject of high-end, handheld vaporizers that search to leverage tech to ship a greater excessive — and to win prospects at a time when the legalization motion seems primed to deliver extra of the mainstream into the fold. 

A tipping level for pot?

Alexander and I talked in regards to the enterprise of weed tech in between bites at a well-liked spot for Nashville-style sizzling rooster close to downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Towards the top of our dialog, he unboxed a manufacturing mannequin of the Firefly 2 Plus to point out me the corporate’s latest {hardware}. It is a handsome gadget, and in addition longer and bulkier than most handheld vaporizers. 

Like different Firefly vapes, the two Plus incorporates a magnetic lid together with your selection of design. With the woodgrain sample on Alexander’s 2 Plus, the factor seemed a bit like a king-sized duck name as he introduced it as much as his lips to display the right way to maintain and use it.

Sure, I am going to admit that in all of this I nervously glanced across the eating room for any native cops on a lunch break.

Regardless of an extended historical past because the nation’s high producer of hemp, the commonwealth of Kentucky is certainly one of 18 states the place each leisure and medicinal marijuana use continues to be prohibited by legislation. Kentucky additionally lists possession of drug paraphernalia as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with a $500 positive and as much as a yr in jail. On the similar time, hemp-derived CBD merchandise are authorized in Kentucky, and bongs, pipes and vaporizers are brazenly bought in shops throughout the state, usually with winking indicators that learn “for tobacco use solely.” At any charge, we’re a good distance from California.


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Marijuana tech is evolving


Then once more, perhaps we’re nearer than you would possibly suppose. Earlier this yr, legislators in Kentucky’s Home of Representatives launched a invoice to legalize marijuana for medicinal use within the state. Final month, that invoice cleared the Judiciary Committee by a 16-1 vote. Extra lately, Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen supplied up a plan to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana for private use.

Together with document public assist for legalized pot — which now features a majority of People aged 55 and over, and a majority of Republicans, too — headlines like that feed right into a rising sense of marijuana momentum throughout the US. Mark Williams, the previous Apple developer who co-founded Firefly in 2012 with enterprise accomplice Sasha Robinson, himself a veteran of Microsoft, cites the 2018 midterm elections as a key inflection level. Statewide initiatives to legalize marijuana handed in Missouri, Utah and in Michigan, which grew to become the primary state within the Midwest to legalize weed for leisure use.

“It was one of the best day for hashish within the historical past of hashish,” Williams says. “Unexpectedly we realized there was no going again.”

Williams added that he is heartened to see most of the Democratic candidates for president embracing legalization as a part of their platforms — and whereas he “would not presume to invest,” he provides that he might additionally envision President Trump beating them to the punch.

“If I had been him, I might simply wait till a number of months earlier than the election,” Williams stated, “and, simply by govt order, make it authorized and take the problem away from the Democrats and say, ‘Ha! Now you do not have that challenge anymore.”http://www.cnet.com/” 


Every Firefly vaporizer comes with a magnetic lid in your selection of design, just like the woodgrain sample seen right here. The lid’s round window enables you to see what you are vaporizing as you vaporize it.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A high-tech excessive

At any charge, Williams and others I spoke with within the weed tech business expressed optimism that the US will see important progress in direction of full legalization by subsequent yr’s November elections. In the meantime, rising hashish subcategories like vape pens and oil concentrates, the latter of which Firefly vaporizers are suitable with, are already seeing regular development, in response to marijuana supply service Eaze. These are the tailwinds Firefly is attempting to catch with the two Plus as its new flagship.

Firefly’s app enables you to set the temperature of the gadget out of your cellphone, together with a calibration slider and the flexibility to decide on which buttons — left, proper, each or both — will set off the gadget to warmth up.

Firefly screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

To that finish, the brand new worth of $250 is $80 lower than earlier than — priced to compete with vaporizers just like the $275 DaVinci IQ, however nonetheless $80 greater than its high competitor, the favored Pax 3, which is made by the identical staff behind Juul digital cigarettes. Like Firefly, these app-enabled alternate options function eye-catching designs, which is not an accident. Appears to be like matter if you’re attempting to capitalize on client curiosity and get individuals to splurge.

Firefly hopes to face out from the pack with its nifty magnetic lids, and with the truth that, in contrast to most vaporizers, it options a bit window that allows you to see what’s inside as you are vaporizing it. 

Just like the Firefly 2, the two Plus additionally employs a patented approach referred to as “dynamic convection” that heats the gadget as much as the chosen temperature setting with every drag as an alternative of preheating to the temperature setting in the beginning after which remaining there. It takes only a few seconds to warmth up if you need to take successful, however these seconds add up because you’re ready with every hit. With most different vaporizers, you will wait 15 seconds or so if you first flip them on, after which drag at will till you are achieved.

With Firefly, you simply maintain your finger in opposition to the touch-sensitive buttons on both facet of the gadget, watch for the inexperienced mild and take successful. And, in a pleasant contact (no pun meant), the app enables you to use both of these buttons — or each concurrently — for heating the chamber. Simply inform the app which choice you need.


The Firefly 2 Plus comes with a charging cradle.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dynamic convection additionally makes it so the two Plus would not want an influence button, because it heats up with every button press and routinely cools down after every hit. When the battery wants recharging, you will dock the two Plus in a charging cradle that comes with the gadget. Firefly says that different advantages to dynamic convection embody gentler heating, extra correct temperature management and fewer wasted vapor in between hits.

In the meantime, the two Plus boasts a borosilicate glass bowl contained in the gadget and glass piping to the mouthpiece, too. That is a top quality inside — although the outside casing felt a bit extra plasticky than a few of us anticipated at first contact. With the additional dimension and angular bulk, a number of of us additionally discovered it to be much less comfy to carry than different vaporizers, too.

As for what makes the two Plus, you already know, a “Plus,” Firefly’s staff factors to the gadget’s improved air-flow throughout drags as probably the most important improve over the Firefly 2.

“It is simpler to inhale,” Williams says. “You do not have that instant must exhale. To make use of an analogy, you’d by no means take a swig of beer and spit half of it out. However that is what persons are doing with hashish proper now.”

The important thing with any vaporizer is temperature management. The truth is, the entire level of vaping is that you just’re heating the energetic components (terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD) to their boiling level and releasing them as vapor, however not burning your bud the best way an open flame will. Whether or not it is fundamental conduction vapes or fancier convection vapes that warmth extra evenly, the concept is that you just’re aiming for a Goldilocks temperature — sizzling, however not too sizzling.

That is the place these app controls are available in. With a full spectrum of temperature settings starting from 200-500 levels Fahrenheit that you just alter in 10-degree increments (a serious improve from the six fastened settings of the earlier gen), plus a “calibration” slider for extra incremental changes that nudge the standard of your vapor towards both richer taste or a smoother drag, Firefly’s app is straightforward and uncluttered. I appreciated the hyperlinks to tutorial movies in its Data part, too. 

It is only a disgrace that there is not a temperature readout on the gadget itself, or the flexibility to cycle via that full vary of temperature settings with out the app. You may nonetheless use the gadget in case your cellphone’s battery dies, thoughts you — you simply will not have the ability to alter away from a default medium excessive setting.


Similar to the legislation, the marketplace for marijuana tech continues to be evolving within the US, and we do not but know precisely what it is last kind will appear to be. It is also unclear how demand for high-end vaporizers that value a whole bunch of {dollars} will fare in opposition to smaller vape pens made to be used with disposable hashish oil cartridges. These are considerably inexpensive than merchandise just like the Firefly 2 Plus, and their reputation is on the rise.

If the Firefly 2 Plus desires to be the iPhone of vaporizers, then it is likely to be an iPhone XS Max — huge, costly, spectacular and greater than lots of people most likely want or need to pay for. Nonetheless, you might need stated one thing comparable about Nest as soon as upon a time — and look how that turned out.


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