There are plenty of seemingly ridiculous cannabis-related products in the world that become a bit less ridiculous when you investigate them closely with an open mind. Take cannabis perfume, for example — while it may seem odd that a person would purposely make themself smell like cannabis, the reasons that smelling like the plant was frowned upon in the past (ex. it was not socially acceptable and could easily lead to serious legal problems) are much less applicable these days, at least if you’re a white person living in a state with legal cannabis. Or consider the cannabis candle — they might not get you high, and the presence of cannabis might seem unnecessary, but at least they can theoretically help elevate your mood.
However, no such concession can be made for the VapeGasm, the Bluetooth-enabled sex toy that has quickly become a symbol for everything dumb and wrong about the cannabis industry.
Created by CamSoda, an adult entertainment website, the VapeGasm is billed as “a technology solution that pairs vaping with sexual stimulation.” If you’re wondering what the English translation for “technology solution” is, here you have it: it’s a vape pen and a sex toy (sold seperately) connected by an app. When the user inhales on the vape pen, the sex toy vibrates. The strength of the vibration can be controlled using the app.
Here’s why the efficacy of VapeGasm is iffy, at best: While the ability of cannabis to boost one’s sex drive has shown promising results in early studies, the research into cannabis and sex has made one thing clear: it’s not a magical arousal medicine. Instead, it affects your libido in subtle ways dependent on context. Judging from CamSoda’s promotional materials for the VapeGasm, this is not a lesson they’ve learned.
The VapeGasm has been called “the worst cannabis product of 2019” by Josh Jardine of The Stranger, and it’s perhaps appropriate that it was released by CamSoda, which has launched similar attention-grabbing products in the past (often in conjunction with popular sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby). Few inventions could have provided such a neat snapshot of all the problems plaguing the cannabis business at the moment.
The first thing that should raise suspicions about the VapeGasm (aside from perhaps the name itself) is the price: at just $19.99, it’s only slightly more expensive than a disposable vape pen. While price isn’t always an accurate reflection of quality, it’s almost impossible to find a well-made vape pen for under $40. Cheap vape pens not only run the risk of overheating or underheating (which can cause explosions and ruined vape oil, respectively), their poorly-designed heating coils can also leak toxic chemicals into the user’s lungs.
There’s no information about the VapeGasm pen’s components on the company’s website — meaning it’s likely a white label product from China, casting further doubt on its quality — but there are a number of misleading and vaguely (or overtly) misogynist reviews. One of the most prominent ones claims, “I live in Chicago and my GF goes to NYU. At least I can please her while she stresses over exams!” Considering that most Bluetooth devices struggle to connect to each other from separate rooms in the same house, this seems rather unlikely. Others, like, “My girl was always pissed at me for smoking at home. Now she LOVES it!” almost seem like they were specifically designed to show just how prevalent sexism in cannabis still is.
The original press release (which has since been updated in response to what was presumably an overwhelmingly negative response) may have been even worse, making casual reference to “a girl’s vagina” while joking that male versions of the toy would be “available very soon.”
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with exploring cannabis or one’s sexuality in whatever ways are legal and consensual, the existence of the VapeGasm is proof that the cannabis industry still has a lot of growing up to do — and some serious credibility issues to resolve.