Cannabis and the Glass Blower – The Story of Kindred Souls
Glass blowing is one of the oldest art forms that has remained roughly unchanged since the 1st Century BC.
While most people don’t ever really think about the creation process – for cannabis consumers, glass blowers have been their “low key rock stars” for several decades.
This is because your bongs and pipes are made by these glass artists and depending from who you buy, these pieces can get quite expensive.
This is why today I decided to write a bit about Glass Blowing and how it has intertwined itself with the cannabis culture, and how even the government through their reefer madness went after glass blowers everywhere which culminated in the arrest of Tommy Chong.
Yes, cannabis history is one of the weirdest and insane histories of them all.
Let’s get cracking!
How Glass Blowers Got into the Weed Game
The intention of this article isn’t to teach you that glass blowing originates in Syria, or that it’s been utilizing the same techniques for thousands of years.
Rather, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the intersectionality of the art form and the cannabis culture.
One would think that an art form that has endured for thousands of years would have catered to the cannabis consumer – a crop that likewise endured for thousands of years.
But the truth of the matter is that the modern cannabis-glass pipe is actually not “that” old. The first smoking devices were made from clay.
You may know them as a “Chillum” – and are still sold today.
Other “pre-glass” smoking methods involved stone pipes, wooden pipes, clay pipes, and seeds. I met some farmers who used the stalk of corn to roll their doobies.
The first real iteration of glass pipes being used for cannabis can be traced back to the 1960s, where one unnamed artist thought about creating a lavish smoking device from glass.
After all, glass didn’t burn like wood or stone and was easier to clean.
It made “sensi.”
From Patent to Prohibition
It took 17 years for the first glass pipe to be patented but during this time, the popularity of glass pipes began to soar. While the drug counter-culture was still largely made up of hippies and “beatniks”, the art form made a complete integration into the cannabis culture.
In 1977, the first pipe was patented.
Then came reefer madness 2.0 – The Raegan era!
During this, “wholesomeness” was the law of the land and D.A.R.E campaigns were being broadcasted on every station and spammed into every school.
Magazines were also popular and served as a “counter-narrative” to the official tripe being pushed by the government.
It was because of Magazines like High Times where glass pipes also started to make featured rounds and become an integral part of the smoking experience.
Artists had a new market where they could explore their creativity and stoners had a new way of smoking out of art. It was a win-win.
And then came Operation Pipe Dreams in 2003.
When the Government Went After the Artists
If you don’t know about Operation Pipe Dreams, here’s a quick rundown.
In 2003, the US Federal government targeted what they believed to be “illegal” businesses selling “drug paraphernalia”.
Paraphernalia is just a scary word for pipes and bongs.
Since most State governments thought convicting glass blowers or shops that sold glass related items was ridiculous, the US government tried to convict people in Iowa and Pennsylvania – where they had outright laws against using the mail system to deliver pipes or any other “paraphernalia”.
Out of the 55 establishments being targeted, only Tommy Chong was convicted and went to jail for almost a year and had to fork over $100,000 to the government as it was “seized”.
What makes it even more ridiculous was that the government “set him up” and created a fake business and tried for months to get Nice Dreams – Chong’s shop – to sell to them.
It was only when the Feds threatened to arrest his family that Chong decided to plead guilty.
Talk about “representing the people”…hey Uncle Sam?
The idea behind the federal raid was to sway people away from using these pipes, but since they arrested a living legend instead – all it did was put glass pipes and bongs on a national and international platform.
Since then, the selling and buying of pipes have grown into a multibillion dollar industry and certain artists have elevated their brand into Rock Star Status.
Some Art Pieces can go for up to a Million Dollars
There are currently two pieces valued at $1 Million.
For example “The Throne Bubbler” was a collaboration between Clinton Roman, Scott Deppe, Darby Holm, and Banjo, and is listed as this price point.
Of course, the actual value of these pieces are subjective as no stoner in their right mind would buy a million dollar piece, however it simply illustrates how these artists have grown in popularity.
A good glass pipe or bong will definitely cost you a few hundred to a thousand dollars depending on who you buy it from. If you’re going to be purchasing a bong from a famous glass blower, you’re going to have to dish out some serious cash.
You can check out this list of some of the most expensive bongs on the planet.
Fortunately, there is also a great amount of “unknown artists” out there that still sell their pieces at affordable prices and in some cases, you can find basic pipes at $10 or less
The Sticky Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the stoner and the glass blower are kindred spirits. Utilizing their creativity and love of the craft to express themselves.
Cannabis is a vehicle for the creative – whether its music, literature, film or glass.
One of the reasons I believe these two industries collided so much is due to the nature of the stoner, who often names their pipe – ascribes a personality to it, and utilizes it as a “friend” as opposed to a smoking device.
This created a closeness to the artist, and so – both benefit from the single action of smoking some good ol’ weed.