The "Active" model of Ratio cannabis vapes features a 20:1 ratio of THC and CBD.
When Missouri's first cannabis dispensaries opened in October, marijuana patients had few options — mostly, it involved buying grams of actual cannabis flower, grinding up the nugs, and then rolling the odorific plant matter into joints or packing it into pipes.
But this year, cannabis vapes have increasingly begun to show up on dispensary menus. These products, which use battery-powered systems to heat THC oil and produce vapor, comprise their own ecosystem of accessories, flavors and models — and for Matt LaBrier, co-founder and COO of Proper Cannabis, the promise of his company's new single-use vape product, the Ratio, comes down to one thing: consistency.
"We wanted people to experience a heightened level of control," he explains. "I can't tell you how many people I've seen hit a vape pen for ten seconds, wondering if they're getting anything, and then blow out a huge cloud of vapor and be like, 'Oh, I was hitting it the whole time.'"
Indeed, using a vape pen, especially for the first time, can be a tricky business for new patients and even experienced cannabis users. The high potency of the cartridges means that a user who's just looking for a moderate mood lift can find themselves out of their depth and possibly glued to the couch.
The Ratio line of vapes addresses this challenge with a "dose controlled" system that triggers a brief physical vibration through the mouthpiece to signal that you've taken a single "dose." (A light on the bottom of the battery also activates when the device is "hitting.")
In a test, the Ratio's vibration works exactly as advertised. The mouth-buzz is powerful enough to feel through the lips, but not so overpowered as to rattle your face while you're trying to smoke. The feedback provides a moment to gauge the effect without the trial-and-error guesswork that can leave one stranded in the dreaded Too High Zone.
The technology behind the hardware is "custom designed," says LaBrier, who adds that the vape itself will automatically turn off after ten seconds — a further safeguard for a product designed with medical patients in mind.
That's also where the "ratios" of the Ratio come in: The product line features five combinations of THC and CBD, uniting the psychoactive and non-psychoactive parts of the plant into a blend to yield a particular result.
The most THC-heavy blend, called "Active," rolls with a THC-to-CBD ratio of 20:1, or, by quantity, 100mg THC to 5mg CBD. From there, patients can try a 5:1 ratio ("Focus") or go for an even split with 1:1 ("Balance").
On the other side of the spectrum, users looking for CBD-heavier products can opt for a THC-to-CBD ratio of 1:5 ("Relax"), or one with a very low level of THC, a 5:100 Ratio model called "Soothe."
The ratios themselves were inspired by clinical research done in Israel, where LaBrier says doctors have sought to connect specific ailments to treatments based on ratios of THC and CBD.
When it comes to the actual weed used in the Ratio line, LaBrier says the process involves a six-to-eight-week process, from harvesting and treating the cannabis, "breaking the plant down" into its constituent parts, and then combining those parts to reach the targeted ratio.
The goal, he adds, isn't a matter of producing a particular strain, but a specific effect. It means, "If you bought that red pen, and in three months you bought another in Kansas City, it would treat you the same."
The absence of specific strains may irk some cannabis aficionados, though, for those with more refined taste, Proper Cannabis
has also rolled out an "Alien Rock Candy" live resin cartridge compatible with vape batteries designed for the widely-used "510 thread" cartridges. (As a general note, if you're buying a cartridge but not sure if you have the correct battery, figure that out before the purchase, lest you find yourself with a $60-$80 product you can't use.)
The Ratio removes some of that complexity by being entirely self-contained, with the only hardware feature a micro-USB charging port on the bottom. Ratio's cartridge holds .3 grams of the THC/CBD oil mix that cannot be removed or replaced.
For some customers, LaBrier adds, the lack of exotic strain names and accessory options is actually a boon to their cannabis use.
"An average consumer doesn't know what 'Bubba Kush' or 'Alien Rock Candy' will do for them," he points out. "We just want to give people control over their experience, whether that means you're treating a specific medical issue, or if it just means you don't want to smoke something that's going to make you hyper before you go to bed or that's going to make you tired before you go start your day. It's all about is giving somebody a consistent experience."
The Ratio line of vapes is currently priced at $45 (not including tax) and available at Proper Cannabis locations in South St. Louis County (7417 South Lindbergh Boulevard, 314-328-0446)
and Warrenton (711 North State Highway 47, 636-255-8943).
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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