This post is part of our High-tech High series, which explores weed innovations, and our cultural relationship with cannabis, as legalization in several U.S. states, Canada, and Uruguay moves the market further out of the shadows.
There may, somewhere in world history, be a more ironic moment to launch a product named “Roam” than during a pandemic that has most of your customer base confined to their homes. But I’m struggling to think of one. (Maybe during the fall of ancient Rome?)
And while marijuana products in legal states and countries are moving faster than ever in this anxious age, with good reason, much of that growth is going into edibles. (Just ask my local socially-distancing dispensary, where any item you eat or drink is frequently sold out.) To continue to smoke or vape, given COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is a thing that attacks the lungs? Or to quit, at least temporarily, and thus best preserve them? This question taxes the mind of many a stoner right now.
Grenco Science, makers of vaporization devices including the G Pen, soldiered on regardless. The company had a battle plan for its high-tech $250 handheld concentrate bong, the Roam. The plan involved bringing the product out April 1, in time for 420 — once considered among the year’s biggest celebrations, now more of a “maybe we’ll risk being 6 ft away from a joint?” abstraction — its marketing replete with models using the device in front of French and Spanish landmarks.
Coronavirus came for us all, for those countries more than most, and the Roam-an legion rode out anyway. Alea iacta est.
In one crucial respect, I’m glad they did roll out. And that crucial respect is: I’ve tested it. There can be no doubt, the Roam is the smartest, smoothest, tastiest, most efficient and effective pocket-sized weed delivery device I’ve ever tried. It heats up fast, won’t make you cough, and is if anything a little too easy to use. Insert your own review here on whether that is warranted under present circumstances.
“… Roam is the smartest, smoothest, tastiest, most efficient and effective pocket-sized weed delivery device I’ve ever tried.”
The Roam revolutionizes the bong concept by putting its water tube on the inside (making it much more stoner-proof than the Puffco Peak, the last portable bong to wow design fans). Its temperature is adjusted on an LCD display on the side, no app required (unlike Pax and Firefly devices). And that temperature can go all the way to 800F.
To understand why that’s important, let’s back up with this caveat: The Roam is for concentrates only (waxes, shatters, resin, budder, and all those other sticky things sold in tiny jars at the specialist corner of the dispensary). Ever since I was first coaxed into trying them, I’ve switched entirely from flower and oil pens to concentrate. I find the experience clearer-headed and less paranoia-inducing than the kind you get with regular flower. As I’ve written before, concentrate vaping does not include cutting agents that caused the vape pen panic last year.
This is contrary to the reputation of this form of inhalation, which is also known as “dabbing.” That’s because it used to be the preserve of weed nerds with expensive glass “rigs” and scary superheated “nails.” The Roam is the latest advance in what you might call a dabbing renaissance: beautifully designed devices that take the guesswork and the scary parts out of superheating concentrated forms of the cannabis plant.
Some concentrate enthusiasts say the stuff must be superheated at a minimum of 700F to deliver its tastiest, most effective hit. That’s why many still use the scary hardware. The Puffco Peak maxes out at 600F. The Firefly 2+, a beautifully designed e-pipe that comes with a special concentrate disk, can only be dialed up to 500F.
The Roam’s range goes from 600F to 800F, though really, especially for the newbie or relatively cautious user like me, anything above 700F is overkill. The Roam also boasts a “MAX” (somewhere unspecified beyond 800F) mode that’s mostly useful for cleaning the thing. The tasteless concentrate leftover is burned off in an appropriately alluring fashion. For the cleanest experience, swab its quartz concentrate container a few times with a Q Tip immediately after.
There are, of course, caveats. The Roam’s battery doesn’t last as long as you might expect — say, four or five heating cycles plus a few cleanings — though it does turn itself off pretty quickly to save battery life. And it also does support pass-through charging. You plug in any basic micro-USB cable and you’re good to go.
For that reason, as well as for the, y’know, whole quarantine thing, you’re probably better off using it at home, near electricity. It can certainly fit in any pocket or drawer of discretion, but in my experience it doesn’t fare so well in bags; some of the bong tube’s (mercifully clean) water made its way to the mouthpiece when jostled.
… with a little help from my friends
The ultimate irony of the Roam’s launch is that it’s a perfect device for those things we currently can’t have have: dinner parties. You add a rice-grain-sized bit of concentrate, then heat it up a few seconds until a “thumbs up” appears on the screen and vapor starts escaping from the hole that now looks like a bizarre cartoon birds-eye next to the rubber mouthpiece beak. You pass it around, a single puff being excellent for most who want to partake; maybe two or three for the more tolerant. And done! Bring on the coffee.
But without that tempering structure, in a lockdown situation, it can be easy for an individual or even a couple to tip over into the kind of extreme headiness that gives dabbing a bad rep. More than a few hits at a time on this thing could have you locked down on your couch, albeit very pleasantly, no matter what kind of concentrate you use. Even the headiest, most uplifting, must-clean-the-house-now sativa can lock you to the bed after more than a couple of rice grains.
That’s good news for the folks who use cannabis to sleep, of course. Your mileage and need may vary; you’re a smart and responsible adult in a time of crisis, in a legal state or country, and this is truly great anxiety medicine in small doses. For myself, I’ll be saving it for the day that being together and sharing things without a full disinfection routine can comfortably resume. To celebrations and parties and reunions in that future time, the Roam will roam.
One thing we know already: That date ain’t 420.
The information contained in this article is not a substitute for, or alternative to information
from a healthcare practitioner. Please consult a healthcare professional before using any product
and check your local laws before making any purchasing decisions.