updated 6/20/2005 10:53:47 AM ET 2005-06-20T14:53:47

A new gizmo could soon become a popular accessory for medical marijuana users. The vaporizer lets users inhale the drug, without smoking.

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One version looks like a metallic volcano and sells for more than $500. Its creator calls it “the Mercedes-Benz of vaporizers.”

Advocates say that by heating marijuana to a point where vapors are formed but before combustion, a vaporizer is free of many of the toxins and harshness found in marijuana smoke.

More than a dozen manufacturers have sprung up to churn out the devices in the San Francisco Bay Area.

But federal officials aren’t fired up about the vaporizers -- or the fact that they still deliver an illegal drug.

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