From Scythia to Silicon Valley: A Brief History of Cannabis Consumption Devices And Delivery Methods

The modi operandi in which the world consumes cannabis are myriad, vast, and ever-changing.

Humans have been consuming cannabis (nearly) as long as we’ve been breathing oxygen. And over that brief history, the devices we've utilized to deliver THC, CBD, and any other such cannabinoids unto our individual endocannabinoid systems have evolved in tow with humanity at large.

Weed history dates back hundreds of thousands of years, with blips on the timeline representing ancient civilizations that may have used the plant to honor the dead in burial ceremonies, and Oval Office "safety meetings" held by U.S. Presidents––to now: a time and place where pot is legal in some states, but can land users to prison in others. But whether then or now, legal or illegal, medical or recreational, and no matter where in the world (or outer space) we've consumed the herb, our desire for new and better ways to experience the benefits and pleasure of the plant has been constant.

Surely necessity or whim precedes invention, so how did we arrive here? Is the technological and social transitioning of cannabis culture a quantum leap, or more of a random walk through space, time, prohibition, and even the 90’s––that has progressed stoners from smoking dirty weed out of apples, to dabbing clean, high-quality, C02-extracted concentrates out of thousand-dollar glass rigs? 

Since we can’t just text the homegirl Lucy and ask how she and her fossil squad got lit, we did the next best thing... Keep scrolling for a slightly abridged, but still totally information–packed KINDLAND version. 

Image via Wikipedia

'The Shakespeare Way': Pipes, Bowls, Knives, And Bones

Commonly made from glass, wood, clay, and other moldable, non-porous materials, hand-pipes such as the traditional sebsi pipe of Morocco have been used for centuries to smoke hash.

Even Shakespeare smoked weed out of a pipe. Well, probably:

According to Telegraph, “South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting the playwright might have written some of his famous works while high. Residue from early 17th century clay pipes found in the playwright’s garden, and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.” 

Pipes have also traditionally been carved from bone, a practice that is equal parts brutal, and resourceful.

Image via Wikipedia

'The Guadalajaran Pharmacist Way': Reefers, Marijuana Cigarettes, Joints, and Blunts

The marijuana cigarette––the reefer––is another mechanism of consumption that is easily customized, open to interpretation, but time-solidified within the impedimenta of cannabis culture. The panache with which one rolls blunts, joints, or spliffs, is tantamount to said elevated soul’s weed street cred.

Leafly has the world’s first joints being twisted up by a down-ass, forward-thinking pharmacist at the University of Guadalajara in nineteenth century Mexico. And according to the Cambridge University Press, it is believed that “cannabis was smoked in water pipes in eastern and southern Africa before the introduction of tobacco.” 

In the here and now, the “jazz cigarette” gets remixed and reimagined in a multitude of ways, whether the joint is wrapped in food-grade gold, dipped in hash oil and keef, or sold pre-rolled in sleekly branded packaging. 

Image via National Geographic

'The Scythian Way': Bongs, Rigs, Bubblers, And Other Glasswork

The bong and its related cloud-delivering derivatives are as weed as it gets. To that end, the ability to “clear a bong” entirely is in some ways a benchmark of one’s cannabis consuming career. In some heady circles, actual duckets of money exchange hands in functional glass transactions.

In 2013, archaeologists unearthed what they believed to be the world's oldest bongs in existence. Per Dangerous Minds:

"The bongs were uncovered in a secret chamber covered with clay by construction workers during excavations to install power lines. . . used by Scythians, an ancient Iranian nomadic people who dominated the Eurasian grasslands for almost 1,000 years, roughly 800 BC to 300 AD. " 

Fast forward, according to HERB magazine, “The unquestioned godfather of modern glassblowing is a man named Bob Snodgrass. [Snodgrass] fathered the color changing pipe making process of ‘fuming,’ or coating the inside of the pipe with vaporized silver.” 

In today’s marijuana landscape, some functional glass artists make up an almost celebrity class within the cannabis space, and the glass scene is driven largely by a community that exists first on social media.

As we peer into pot’s crystal ball, we see images of forward-thinking companies, such as Cloudious9, using design and technology to mold the best elements of bongs and vaporizers, to craft a hybrid product unique unto itself.

'The Combustion-Free Way': Vaporizers

Unlike a joint or bong, vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures that release cannabinoids – the good stuff secreted by cannabis flowers that get you high and provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation—in a fine mist without creating the toxins associated with combustion.

While vaporization has been transformed by technology and, increasingly, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, vaporizing weed has long been a popular consumption method. Legend has it that the first "vaporizer" devices, which were used to smoke hookah and shisha tobacco, came into use sometime around the 5th century B.C., in Egypyt. Similarly, a patent for the first electronic cigarette (nicotine vaporizer)––which is the foundation of all portable vape pens––was filed in the U.S. in 1927.

The weed world has come full circle. According to data analyzed by Seattle-based, industry intelligence firm Headset, vaporized cannabis concentrates represent a major growth sector within the legal marijuana space. In Washington alone, “The vapor market is an extremely promising one, with a growth rate more than double that of the overall market. . . Vapor pens experienced 32 percent growth, as compared to total sales growth for all categories from January 2016 to July 2016, which was 14 percent ($1.4 million)."

Vape-enabling consumption methods include dabbing, portable “vape pens,” hash oil, and can even go down via marijuana-dosing inhalers.

Perhaps the pinnacle of consumption involves a device that takes the best parts of the bong, and combines them with the dopest functioning portable vaporizer? Coming straight out of Silicon Valley, California, vape-startup Cloudious9 claims its flagship product, the Hydrology9, delivers an "ultimate user experience" so innovative and avant-garde, it might just reinvent the vaping game as it is known today. 

Image via Wikipedia

'The DIY Way': Tinnies, Gravity Bongs, And Other Ad Hoc Devices

Inherent in marijuana’s DNA is a tenacious DIY-spirit. From clandestine cultivation to garage-made gravity bongs, the DIY deliverables universe is common ground across the entirety of the weed world. Where stoners previously risked mental health damages via smoking out of homemade tin foil pipes, cool, modern cannabis consumers can make their own pipes in the freezer.

And have you ever heard of hot knifing? Think of the violently named delivery method––which requires one to heat actual knives, usually on a stove, to the point where the blade becomes a flat-surface vaporizer––as a primitive form of dabbing.The method, which is predominantly employed in the use of harder drugs––was once considered the most efficient way to smoke hash.

Image via Wikipedia

'The Bhang Way': Eating Your Weed

Eating weed is one of the world’s oldest forms of cannabis consumption. The first edible marijuana is thought to have been first munched in 10th century India, and was known as “bhang.” According to reports, “Bhang was, and still is, a popular drink in the Indian subcontinent (shots, shots, shots). It’s a mixture of pulverized weed, ghee (clarified butter), milk and spices. Of course, back then it was used not as a drug, but as a sleep aid and appetite enhancer (not much has changed).”

Hemp seeds were even once considered to be a non-intoxicating source of protein.

Smokeless consumption is a space that sees continued innovation, but has also come full circle––from transdermal CBD patches that deliver cannabinoids through your skin and into your bloodstream, to weed-infused butt lube that enables some hawt sex and high times. You can pour it as a powder into water, where it will dissolve into a DIY-cannabis-infused tea. And some brands are even exploring THC-infused breath strips.

What a time to be alive.


This article was created in collaboration with Cloudious9.