The Little Black Dress Of Vaping

Apparently, it’s not that hard to get something perfectly, beautifully right.

As the legal marijuana industry booms in California, inventors are scrambling to discover the hottest new way for consumers to receive it. The industry has reached far beyond traditional edible cookies, creating such atrocities as paper-thin “sublingual strips” that dissolve on the tongue and anal suppositories that pack a punch.

But the upside of exploring new ways to enjoy cannabis is that occasionally, a wildly successful tool comes out. Challenging the Juul for first place in the cheap-and-subtle vape pen category is the $15 G Pen GIO, a cartridge-based vaping tool that is both impossibly smooth and pocket-sized. Trust us when we say it knocks those generic white pens branded with your local dispensary’s name out of the park.

It’s not surprising that Caliva chose a well-made pen to partner with; after all, the company is based in Silicon Valley, and we bet they know their tech. Called “the best marijuana shop in America” by Business Times, Caliva got a head start on legalization with its medical dispensary in San Jose, which opened in 2015. Its success has been enormous: The store, which the above publication described as looking like “a hybrid between a surf shop and an Urban Outfitters,” makes millions in sales each year.

Caliva has now moved beyond providing a carefully curated selection of products to producing its own, and that’s where the G Pen vape cartridges come in. With CBD, Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid options, they check the boxes for whatever a smoker is looking for — and because this reviewer likes her weed middle-of-the-road, I test-drove the Hybrid.

Coming in at 77.9 percent, THC and 0.55 percent CBD, the blend walks the middle of the line with aplomb, going smoothly, as Caliva states, “from morning to evening.” That annoying turn of phrase, over-used in women’s magazines, is accurate; this product is the little black dress of cannabis. I smoked it walking my dog on the beach on a Saturday morning and stayed lucid enough to chat with other dog owners paranoia-free, then drive four miles home in traffic afterward. It takes the edge off after a crappy day of work, and it’s a helpful appetite aid, lacking that insane eat-weird-things-with-a-weirder-condiment munchie drive. It makes stand-up comedy specials on Netflix funnier, and, when I’m tired, guided me sleep with the subtle strength of a five-milligram Ambien.

In fact, it’s such a workhorse of a blend that my pot consumption has gone up — like, way up. After more than a month of daily use, I suddenly panicked that I was running low. But lo and behold, when I popped the cartridge out of the G Pen to check, it was well more than half full, making its $39.99 price tag a total bargain.

Plus — and I really racked my brain to verify that this is true — I haven’t had to recharge the G Pen once since I loaded it up weeks ago. After throwing out broken, free-on-your-birthday vape pens from dispensaries, losing special USB chargers, buying a cartridge and hating its effects, and accidentally destroying a pen in the laundry, I was ready to throw in the towel altogether and go back to hacking over a bowl of flower to get high. But my love affair with the Caliva G Pen duo is going strong, and yes you can take a hit, as long as you’re willing to put up with me wax prophetic about how much I love it.

Potency: The more you smoke, the higher you feel. Pro-tip: The G Pen hits super-smoothly, so take just a little puff the first time to gauge how much you’re consuming.

Smell: Doesn’t smell that weed-like, could slide by incognito as smoking an herbal e-cigarette when smoking near the uninitiated.

Taste: Delicious, though doesn’t taste strongly of cannabis. On that note, it doesn’t leave you with bad weed breath, either.

Appearance: Discreet and small, perfect for a pocket.

Medical Application: Honestly, wherever, whenever, the hybrid blend is truly flexible.

Effect: Overall a calming, smooth high with few munchie cravings and no paranoia.