Head shop is a retail outlet specializing in paraphernalia used to consume cannabis and tobacco and cannabis products and related countercultures. They emerged from the hippie counterculture in the late 1960s, and at that time many of them had close ties to the anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as to groups in the marijuana legalization movement such as LeMar, Amorphia, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Why are smoke shops called a Headshop?
While the word “headshop” may have found its way back to popular vocabulary, the origin of the term may still seem elusive and confusing. Some claim that “head” is actually an acronym for “He Eats Acid Daily.” Others may refer to a popular nickname for Grateful Dead fans; dead heads. More than likely, however, the term actually found its seeds in a slang that originated in 1913. This year marks the first documentation of someone who pairs the name of the drug with the word “head” to denote the subject as an addict.
In the ’60s, when acid heads and pot heads became a pronounced aspect of American counterculture, headshops seemed to cater to those who wanted to improve their experience. The song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane repeats the line “feed your head” at the end of the song; a challenge for the listener to expand his mind. Essentially, the mission of the headshop was to help its clients “feed their heads.”
The ’60s were a drug-soaked time, so it makes sense that the first headshops began to appear in major cities in the middle of the decade. In 1967, the Jefferson Airplane classic, “White Rabbit,” was released, and there might be a clue in those lyrics. The song includes the line “feed your head.” This is believed to be a reference to expanding one ‘s mind through drug use. What else are you calling the mind? Well, sometimes you’re going to call it the head.
People who take part in certain substances are also known by names such as “pothead.” So that’s another way the term “head shop” could have been called. Out of context, calling a retail store a “head shop” sounds strange and confusing, but it makes a lot more sense when you go back and look at what life was like in America in the 1960s.
It was 50 years ago, though. Drugs such as cannabis are now more widely accepted than ever. In fact, Americans overwhelmingly believe that using cannabis is less dangerous than using alcohol, opioids, and tobacco. However, the laws have not quite caught up with public opinion.
How Headshops Operate
In 2015, news agency Reuters reported that “As states and cities across the country have lowered the penalties for possession, a patchwork of federal , state and local laws means little has changed in the headshops.” That means there are still quite a few places where you can go to the retail headshop and browse the goods, but if you’re going to use the accessories to help you smoke m. Think about all you want, but if you say that, store owners feel legally bound to refuse service to you.
Philadelphia is a good example of how it works. It’s one of the few cities in Pennsylvania to decriminalize marijuana possession. If you’re caught with 30 grams or less of the substance, you ‘re looking at a quote and a $25 fine. This means that customers are free to stroll to the head shop in Philadelphia without worrying about the cops coming after them. But once you walk into that shop, don’t be surprised if the signs inside refer to smoking tobacco instead of cannabis. Don’t try to get anyone working there to say a magic word, either. You ‘re not funny; you ‘re just being weird, and you’re kind of stupid, if you do that.The employees know better than you do what words and phrases they can or can’t say.
It may sound paradoxical to fear that they will be arrested for drug paraphernalia, and experts say such raids are unusual. But they haven’t been unheard of. Look at the Pipe Dreams operation in 2003. The Drug Enforcement Administration has arrested 55 people on drug paraphernalia charges. The general public wasn’t exactly crying out for the feds to go out and arrest people like the actor and comedian Tommy Chong, but it happened anyway. Chong was the only person to serve any jail time, and the critics called Operation Pipe Dreams a politically motivated stunt. It’s a reminder that while headshops provide a unique and useful service, they need to be careful about exactly how they provide that service.
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