About the AuthorA Gonzo journalist hailing from New York City, Gonzo has contributed to pretty much every marijuana magazine and blog in the nation. He covers Medicinial, Growing and National News for Higher Ground. And since it’s not legal where he lives, he’ll remain anonymous. For now.
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By Michael A. Stusser — 5 years ago
PAX 2 Review
Michael A. Stusser
INTRO TO VAPES
First things first: There are people who like to smoke out of bongs. There are people who prefer to roll a fatty. (That’s me!) There are fans of the one-hitter, glass pipe aficionados, Roor rooters, boisterous bubblers, glass-beaker geekers, hookah-suckas, and everything in between (i.e. partially crushed aluminum cans, pineapple pipes, etc.). And it’s all good. However you want to get high is your business – so long as you share.
One of the more modern conventions for getting baked is through the use of a vaporizer….Vapes allow the user to inhale “vapor” – and not smoke. Instead of the cannabis being combusted (by match or Zippo or blowtorch) – the vaporizer brings your marijuana flower (or oil or hash) to a temperature that’s hot enough to sublimate cannabinoids in cannabis, but doesn’t actually combust the herb. Sort of like a convection oven instead of a raging BBQ…but hand-held. In addition to it being an excellent option for individuals wanting to eliminate the various risks of smoke inhalation (a good choice for MMJ patients wanting the benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes, but not the potential lung irritations from smoke inhalation), vaporizing marijuana creates a more effective release of the medicinal properties of the cannabis flower.
Known as “The iPhone of Vaporizers,” the Pax brand has been around since 2012 (previously Ploom, now Pax Labs Inc.), and the product reviewed here is their second – and highly improved edition. I experimented with the original Pax a few years back (which sold over 500,000 units), but why waste time on the iPhone 4S- when there’s a new version of the iPhone 9 to discuss?
The new re-designed Pax is available in four color choices, all made from a hip and durable, transverse-brushed aluminum (the same anodized shell the iPhone 6 is forged out of). The iconic Pax looks like a minimalist high-end, high-tech product you’ll be proud to be seen carrying around. (Let’s be real – if you’re paying top dollar for a glorified pipe – around $280 – it better be sexy as hell. And this is.)
The new Pax 2 is 25% smaller and ten percent lighter than the original, and instead of a retracting mouthpiece, has a groovy flap of sorts that, according to the manufacturer, uses “lip-sensing technology.” (I wish my girlfriend did!) A second rubber mouthpiece that extends slightly from the top is also included. The Stanford University geeks who created the Pax brand have done a great job of combining applied science principles, technology, and a very cool (and stolen from Apple) design – to wind up with a unique and quality product that does not disappoint.
While there are a plethora of settings available for the Pax, for folks like me who like to “dumb it down,” the elegant product is also extremely easy to use. Press…wait, and in less than a minute, when the iconic LED Pax logo goes from pulsing purple flickering glow to a solid neon green, begin to suck. When you’re done, click the top mouthpiece down to turn it off, and re-load!
The heating element in the Pax can be set to four various heat settings, and has an intelligent cooling down system as well. While I’ve had the unit for several months, I rarely cycle through to choose a particular heating level, but instead let the smart machine do it’s thing.
Unlike many vaporizers with temp control, the smartest part about PAX is that it measures the temp of the herb…not the stainless steel oven itself. So instead of the chamber burning away, the PAX makes sure you’re cooking your prime ganja all the way through. (If you’re spending serious money on a vape, you better also be putting some cool cash into the best weed out there…)
There’s a distinct and almost sweet smell that my Pax emits when the ganja is ready – and the clovers glow green. It’s not so much that anyone would be able to call out the stank of cannabis – it’s almost like a bagel’s ready. Once you exhale from the Pax, or course, there is vapor (looks like smoke to me, but all the vaporizers gotta vape something…and it’s more than just heat), and the smell of marijuana. Given that I’m in a legal state (and don’t mind breaking the public consumption of cannabis laws) – the sweet smell actually makes me proud to share with my fellow citizens.
The newest Pax is also designed with various built-in sensors (it’s not a Tesla, but close!). The sensors include an accelerometer to put the device to sleep when it’s been set down, and the battery level which can be checked when the user shakes the Pax. (The four clover leaves show the various levels of charge remaining.) It’s also just fun to rotate the device in your hand three times to show your friends the spinning, colorful Pax clover in Party Mode. (Seriously. It’s beautiful.) Apparently there are also various “secret” games…though I had difficulty figuring them out, especially after taking several draws off the machine. (I even got sent a special detailed PDF from PAX public-relations on each and every user-interface and indicator, and I STILL don’t understand what the fuck’s going on.)
Until you take the Pax out for a test drive – outside your home – you really don’t get the coolness factor of the product. I’ve had the unit for 2 months, but it sat next to my gorgeous double-bubbler art-glass PDX bong, which is quick and powerful and easy to use. (No battery required.) So the PAX just sat there, looking like a slick modern remote control next to my weed box and bong. And then it hit me. Portable. Oh yeah. PORTable! So I packed it tight (as the manual suggests) and hit the bars. So cool. People love it! And when you whip out your Pax, you’re the hit (literally) of any party.
Could this sleek, gorgeous gizmo be better engineered? Probably. It needs a deeper chamber. WAY Deeper. Even though it’s larger and wider than the original version, the current “bowl” is only big enough to pack about 7-10 real “hits” in one go-round. While that’s enough for a few people to get nicely baked, it’s then necessary to knock out the roasted and toasted ganja, and repack a re-fill. As with all vaporizers – is a bit of a to-do. (The bottom sub-flush lid comes off simply enough – and is held in place with two powerful neodymium magnets.) It should also be noted the chamber for weed is consistent with other high end vaporizers…so it could be me that needs to cut down and get a grip on this gripe. Similar to a bong or pipe, a bowl can only be so large for maximum freshness and use before it needs to be refilled – so my complaint may simply be a factor of my own need for moderation.
The only other tweak I’d make on the next version (Pax 3!) is the shape. Given our digital obsession (and societal one at large, now that I think of it) – it’s true the Pax could be more iPhone-shaped: Skinner, longer, and with a slight arc to fit along your skinny thigh. But the current heft is fantastic – it’s got a perfect weight in the palm, and that glowing psychedelic clover is just the fucking coolest thing ever.
The Pax uses a USB-charger (similar to Apple’s Mag-Safe units) that powers up a lithium ion battery, and – as tested – lasts for over 3 hours per charge (90 minutes to charge, on average), which is more than you’ll need. The unit turns itself off if you don’t draw on the mouthpiece or touch in for three minutes (and goes into standby mode by slowly lowering the temp after only 20 seconds) – so you’ve actually got five or six hours of party time before the battery truly runs out.
By far the best feature of the Pax is that it’s stealthy – not because of it’s actual size (which is really the smallest/most compact of the high-end vaporizers on the market) – but because even when I bring the thing out in broad daylight – at football games or bars or concerts or cafes – people see me handling this odd-looking graphite device that has a pulsing light and can’t fathom it’s a cannabis vaporizer. They’re more likely to think I’m holding a digital tape recorder up to my mouth than a machine that allows me to smoke (vape? cook?) marijuana! It’s so elegant, I often set mine on the table in cocktail lounges (sadly, next to my fawking iPhone) and see if anyone reacts. It’s rare. Mostly (sadly) they’re lost in their own digital devices, and not paying any attention.
In the end, how do I know I like it the Pax? Because it’s in my pocket every time I leave the house.
The Pax 2 runs around $280 and includes a 10 year warranty.
Available in charcoal (black), topaz (aqua), flare (red) and platinum (silver).
3.87 x 1.21 x 0.85
18.5mm x 8.6mm x 10mm
Lithium-ion battery recharges in 2-3 hours via USB or AC wall adaptor
Thin film Kapton heater flex
Detects motion to put PAX in standby-mode when not in use to conserve battery life and oven contents
Vapor path is constructed entirely from medical grade components. All plastic components are food-safe engineering plastics of the highest quality available.
IN THE BOX
Included in the box are:
•The PAX 2
•Two silicone mouthpieces—a flat one, flush with the top of the
device, and one raised option
•One magnetic charging cradle with USB cord
•PAX 2 cleaning kit with isopropyl alcohol & pipe cleaners
By Michael A. Stusser — 5 years ago
Spring has sprung, and it’s finally time to strap on the running shoes and get stoned out of your mind!
There’s no doubt that marijuana is good for all kinds of things: stimulating the appetite, creative brainstorming, giggle-fests . . . but exercise? Yes, apparently. According to an article in last month’s Runner’s World, athletes who use cannabis benefit from stress relief and reduced inflammation.
Now I’m no marathoner, but I do understand the pain and nausea that kind of grind might cause; hell, I “hit the wall” on walks from Starbucks to the car. And long-distance runners are now claiming that the pain relief associated with marijuana is also a huge benefit for their grueling efforts, helping athletes achieve an idealized state earlier in their run.
“When you have runner’s high, you have feelings very similar to those you would feel if you were smoking marijuana,” stated neuroscientist Arne Dietrich in Runner’s World. The prefrontal cortex of the brain regulates both feelings, Dietrich notes, including “sedation, analgesia, mild happiness, the loss of the sensation of time, and a loss of worries.” What? Where was I?
It makes sense that the CBDs that help to block the input of pain for medicinal purposes and act as anti-inflammatories can also help athletes struggling with joint pain in various sports. And we’re not just talking about snowboarders or Ultimate Frisbee Golf jocks either. A Wall Street Journal story recently interviewed ultra-marathon runners, who run up to 200 miles over 20-hour periods, and many noted that cannabis aids with the stomach cramps and intense muscle pain they endure along the way. “The person who is going to win an ultra is someone who can manage their pain, not puke, and stay calm,” said veteran runner Jenn Shelton. “Pot does all three of those things.” I have a better suggestion for these masochistic ultra-marathoners: moderation!
Even the World Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Track & Field are coming around on dope. Last year the WADA raised the acceptable amount of THC a runner can have in his or her system, flagging only runners who use pot on the day of competition. Using marijuana during training sessions or as a sleep aid the night before a race is all good. There’s a reason the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, is from Jamaica, mon!
Running high as a kite is not for everyone. Chronic smoking has been related to pulmonary irritation and symptoms of chronic bronchitis (including hocking loogies). “There are cardiovascular effects, like increasing heart rate,” says Gregory Gerdeman (The Pot Book) in the Runner’s World piece. “These may be minimal in young athletes or those with tolerance, but should be considered seriously by anyone at risk for coronary heart disease. Plus, there have been some studies that suggest it influences blood flow to the brain, which can influence the risk of stroke.”
Still, cannabis smoking doesn’t have nearly the negative effect on the lungs that tobacco does. The National Institutes of Health did a study in 2013 that I wish I’d been chosen for. They exposed a group of adults to up to seven “joint years”—one joint per day for seven years—and found that even those extremes didn’t diminish lung function. In fact, marijuana users in the study performed a little better than nonsmokers on a lung-function test, because ganja smokers were basically “training” over time by taking deep breaths and holding smoke in.
Outside did its own piece on stoned running (“Know Before You Go!”), and, while not condoning the practice, gave helpful tips, including not getting lost, bringing munchies along the way, and “dosing” in a safe environment: “You don’t want to be 10 miles into the mountains and suddenly feel like you need to take a nap because THC makes you sleepy, then find yourself dozing off in the middle of the woods with no food or shelter.” Their advice on dosing was a little . . . high: “While lower doses often lead to a relaxed physical state and sense of well-being, or a ‘body high,’ high doses can bring on an acid-trip type of experience with hallucinations and possible paranoia. Once the drug kicks in, the high can last from four to 10 hours, or possibly longer.” Not sure where they’re getting their ganja, but I want some. Wow!
My own advice is to use marijuana as a sort of reward after you exercise. The perfect indulgent treat? The CannaBar! It’s a protein candy bar made using almonds, honey, and hemp-based cannabidiols—with less fatty ingredients that the Clif bars you’re shakily shoving in mid-marathon. Sadly, the CannaBar is made with a cannabis sativa without much THC, so it doesn’t get you high; you’ll want to do that in the traditional way—and by that I mean taking off your Brooks, collapsing on the couch, and sucking down bong hits.
This article first appeared in the Seattle Weekly.
By Michael A. Stusser — 6 years ago
Hillary Clinton is by far the most reasonable Presidential candidate about marijuana policy, but we have a hard time inhaling her non-admission about never trying it. After all, she’s married to…Bill!