In the stoner culture that flourished below cannabis prohibition, nothing at all signified one’s like of the plant much more clearly than the water pipes recognized as bongs. This was for sensible as nicely as symbolic motives. Bongs offer you much more smoke and a smoother hit than pipes or joints. No matter whether in use or not, they convey a clear message: marijuana is smoked right here.

They have been utilized to smoke cannabis because antiquity. When a person is sucking on a bong, mouth agape inside a glass tube, it is a pose of the purest hunger, like a child goat sucking on an udder. Customers generally named their bongs. To the fraternity of underground cannabis customers, they have been akin to sacred totems.

But with legalization below way, bongs have an image issue. The “wellness”-obsessed cannabis market does not have a great deal use for them. Wellness-conscious customers favor to vape or consume cannabis than combust it. The bong as centerpiece of a space also is not a excellent match for the industry’s new ethos, echoed in the slogan of the magazine Gossamer: “For people today who also smoke weed.”

Simultaneously, the heaviest cannabis customers have gravitated away from flower to stronger THC concentrates that they consume with dab rigs, contraptions that can appear like bongs but are utilized to vaporize the drug with the support of a blow torch. Well-known new items such as the PuffCo Peak and Vapexhale appear like bongs and can be referred to as bongs, but they are vaporizers, not pipes.

bong illustration

Illustration: George Wylesol

Even so, smoking accessories stay a sizable market. In 2013, US head shops generated $10bn in income, about the exact same size as the 2018 legal US cannabis industry.

Harrison Baum, CEO of Day-to-day Higher Club, an on-line head shop that sends a month-to-month box of smoking accessories to subscribers, mentioned nowadays bongs have been “a niche, but a really large niche”, well known with younger people today and nostalgists in their 50s and 60s reliving their college days.

In 4 years, Baum mentioned, the enterprise had sold much more than 300,000 bongs. Well-known models incorporate the “southern dabber”, which capabilities a dab rig’s smaller sized chamber inside a bong chamber, and the “road rasta”.

In the early days of the green rush, Jane West, an occasion planner and mom in suburban Denver, produced a name for herself throwing upscale pot parties, at least one particular of which featured a functioning bong ice sculpture. These days she has released a line of smoking accessories, such as a glass bong referred to as a “beaker” that would appear at dwelling on a tastefully appointed shelf subsequent to a wine decanter. Its chamber is meant to approximate a person’s lung capacity.

Meanwhile, upscale head shops have popped up in areas like the Los Angeles branch of the swank division shop Barney’s.

There’s a parallel with sex toys. When hidden behind counters, they now boast really serious design and style credentials and can be purchased in eye-catching shops, with chipper attendants content to “educate” buyers about their many properties. And a neighborhood of glass workers has elevated elaborate bongs into a type of folk art, with pieces by nicely-recognized artists promoting for much more than $10,000.

So, yes, the bong is gentrifying. And it may perhaps normally have its fans – as West says: “There’s nothing at all that compares.”