With so many new legal cannabis users popping up thanks to legalization, there are some questions that arise quite frequently. One of the most common concerns that new smokers have is whether it is legal to buy hand pipes, bongs, bubblers, and dab rigs from an online headshop, especially if the headshop is based in a state where cannabis is not yet legal.
The simple is that YES, it is completely legal to buy a water pipe through an online headshop. But there is a little more to this than most people realize. Water pipes have been in a gray are for a long time, in part thanks to the "war on drugs." Let's jump into the legal history of bongs to see how glassblowers went from outlaws to successful manufacturers in a booming industry.
The History of Water Pipes & Bongs
The earliest known water pipes date all the way back to over 2,000 years ago, and they were originally crafted from solid gold! Scythian tribal chiefs in what is modern day Russia are considered some of the first producers of water pipes. However, they could also be found in parts of Africa and Central Asia.
The term "bong" comes from "buang," the term used to describe Thai bamboo water pipes.
From ancient Russia 2,400 years ago to 1960's America, water pipes had some significance, but the majority of smokers turned primarily to ornate wooden pipe thanks to aesthetics and durability. In the early 1960's, though, Bob Snodgrass brought water pipes into the limelight through the creation of a fuming method that allowed for vibrant colors and increased resilience. This boost in recognition in the era of peace and love did not come without its own struggles. Cue the war on drugs.
In June, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared what he dubbed his "war on drugs," subsequently increasing the presence of drug enforcement agencies in the United States. This, in addition to parental concern over teenage cannabis use led to a dark time in marijuana's history. Both governmental agencies and police forces across the nation cracked down on cannabis consumption and the production of cannabis-related materials, including water pipes.
Fast forward a little to 2003. New US laws were introduced to fight against the production of cannabis paraphernalia. Instead of focusing on decreasing the use and permeation of drugs like opiates and amphetamines, the United States government chose to ruthlessly demolish a booming industry that did not cause any harm to the American people. No glass manufacturer was safe. Even Tommy Chong, beloved actor, comedian, and cannabis enthusiast was targeted in this glass onslaught.
In what has come to be known as "Operation Pipe Dreams," actor and cannabis activist Tommy Chong (of "Cheech & Chong fame) was arrested for the production and proliferation of glass pipes. It was not until states started vehemently fighting back that the unjust persecution of glassblowers began to subside. Under President Barack Obama, the pipe industry began to boom once more. And now that there are ten states recreationally legal and 33 others that sport medical marijuana, the glass market has never been more accessible and successful.
As long as you are above the legal limit to use cannabis (in most states it is 21), you have the ability to buy quality glass pipes through trusted online retailers. No longer do you have to resort to sourcing mediocre glass from a "Mom and Pop" headshop. Now legal cannabis users have high-end, quality glass pipes available right at their fingertips.
Importance of Finding a Trustworthy Headshop
Much like glass pipes, not every headshop is made equally. There gems and there are lumps of coal in the bunch, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. Even veteran cannabis smokers have trouble differentiating between a trustworthy online headshop and one that doesn't necessarily have the public's best interest at heart.
Finding a good online smoke shop will determine whether your online buying experience is enjoyable and whether you will end up coming back for future purchases. An online headshop can literally make or break your initial legal cannabis experience. Here are a few key qualities of a trustworthy online headshop in order to help you navigate this booming side of the legal cannabis industry:
Find a headshop with a good reputation…
The first and most important key to finding a trustworthy headshop is making sure that the shop in question sports good reviews. The truth always comes out in the reviews, especially in negative reviews. Customer interaction is one thing that many less savory online headshops ignore. If you spot a shop that has a slew of bad reviews, then you should probably look elsewhere for your glass.
Money isn't everything…
Part of keeping customers happy is making sure that the products being sold by an online headshop are not grossly overpriced. But don't be fooled, an incredibly cheap glass piece is almost just as bad. The key to pricing for any online business is analyzing market trends and finding the sweet spot where price points are neither too high nor too low.
A good support system is crucial…
As you can clearly see, customer service is the most important aspect of an online headshop… Actually, customer service is the backbone of any business, no matter the niche. If the online headshop you are looking into sports a lackluster support system, then that should be a major red flag. Any good and trustworthy online business will have a substantial support system in place to ensure that its customers have the best experience possible.
Diversity is key…
No, I am not talking about skin color, so all you social justice warriors don't need to flood the comments with hate. I am talking about product selection. A great online headshop will not pigeonhole customers into just a few select pieces and accessories. The legal cannabis industry is growing rapidly, and there are a ton of glass companies out there. So, if the headshop you are looking at does not have a wide variety of products available, then it might not be the right one for you.
Outdated products mean outdated customers…
In line with keeping a wide array of products, a great online headshop will also keep their products up to date. With rapid growth comes a heavy influx of creative ideas and new technologies. Keeping up with the ever-changing market is what distinguishes between a great online headshop and a mediocre one. It might seem a little common sense, but if the "new" products through an online store are more than a few months old, then that company is doing something wrong. Keep an eye out for updated products in order to verify that the place you are going is a trusted online headshop.