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These 5 brands are all about the elevated cannabis consumer experience

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We may soon see the day when the marijuana leaf is no longer used as graphic shorthand for “this is a cannabis product.”

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a pile of barley on a beer bottle? The fast-growing cannabis industry has been iterating its aesthetic range in record time and in five short years we’ve seen the butane lighter-powered glass bong give way to any number of sleek, USB rechargeable vapes — and the incense-redolent head shop replaced by dispensaries that favour a minimalist Japanese or Scandinavian vibe. The most forward-thinking companies identified the upside in distancing themselves from the stoner market and have created a range of products that stand to appeal to the affluent cannacurious. Here are some pioneering companies and products that are pushing the cannabis-related design to new heights.

Visionary Vape: PAX 3 and PAX Era

The first version of the PAX vaporizer disrupted the category: it was bluetooth enabled, was rechargeable by USB, could be controlled by an app, and you could use it to smoke cannabis flower and tobacco. The press compared it to Apple products. It made the elaborate oversized vaporizers on the market look, well, as ugly and clunky as they often are. (PAX also developed the popular Juul e-cigarettes). Its flagship, PAX 3 ($320), comes in multiple metallic shades and can process extractions, oils, flower, and concentrates, while the small PAX Era ($29.99) takes pre-loaded pods.

Revolutionary Retail: Tokyo Smoke

When Lorne and Alan Gertner decided to open a café and store in Toronto’s Queen West neighborhood to feature their cannabis lifestyle products, they tapped DesignAgency, a firm that also counts zeitgeist-defining brands such as Vice Media and the Momofuku restaurant group as clients. The serene, zen-like Queen West location sets the bar for an upscale retail and café experience and they’ve stocked their stores with sleek proprietary brands and the best-looking gear from other producers. They’ve since opened five more locations in Canada, with more opening imminently, and have their sights set on the United States. MedMen, watch out.

Infuse It or Lose It: Levo Oil Infuser

Just as coffee geeks brag about how many bars of pressure the steaming wand on their Italian-made espresso machine can crank out, cannabis enthusiasts are serious about their gear. Creating cannabis-infused oils and butter at home allows home cannabis cooks to use their favourite strains and pick the quality of oils they are binding with THC.

Those Who Cannabis: Boy Smells Kush Candle

Not all cannabis products are for smoking or eating, and not all of them have vast coffers of venture money behind them. Case in point: the Kush Candle from LA-based company Boy Smells, run by two fashion-world veterans who wisely chose millennial pink as their company colour palate, and Instagram as their marketing tool. Kush was an instant breakout hit and inspired 12 more scents.

Don’t Call It a Bong: BRNT Hexagon

Made from a 3D-printed mold, dishwasher safe, and freezer safe, the Hexagon combines the old-school function of a classic water pipe with modern design and conveniences. Its shape is contemporary and decorative enough that it would look right at home next to some coffee-table photography books and other objets d’art.

This story is part of our Civilized series from our September 2018 issue. Click here for more content from the series.