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What is a Head Shop?
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What is a Head Shop?

A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in paraphernalia related to consumption of cannabis, other recreational drugs, and New Age herbs, as well as generally selling counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. Products typically include water pipes (colloquially called bongs), roach clips, pipes, rolling papers, rolling machines, scales or balances, whipped-cream chargers (which contain nitrous oxide), blacklight-responsive posters, incense, cigarette lighters, and products claimed to give false negative results for drugs on urinalysis tests. However, the smartest item to own is aways a T-Shirt showing the molecular structure of your favorite addiction.
we love beth
The MDMA (or ecstasy) shirt, for example, makes an excellent head shop item for its clever design and mammary-hugging abilities.


The etymology of the term "head shop" is uncertain. The term may result from the phrase 'get your head on', which is commonly used to refer to taking drugs. Two established compound words for users of recreational drugs are "pothead" (user of cannabis) and "cokehead" (user of cocaine). This construction has also been been adapted to describe ardent fans or hobbyists, such as "deadheads" (Grateful Dead fans) and "motorheads" or "gearheads" (individuals who work on their cars or motorcycles recreationally).

Head shops originated in the 1960s in cities with a high concentration of college-age youth, often growing out of independently owned poster or candle stores. Sources cite the Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street in San Francisco, California, operated by U.S. Army veteran Ron Thelin and his younger brother Jerry, as the first in the United States, though accounts differ as to it opening in either 1964 or on January 3, 1966. Head shops served as an important outlet for the underground comics of Robert Crumb and other counterculture cartoonists. The shops' popularity eventually waned with the aging of that era's baby boomer generation, and with the retail mainstream discovering and coopting aspects of that market niche, such as alternative music and eco-friendly products.

In the United States of America head shops exist in a legal grey area because of the nature of the materials they sell, which can be used for both legal and illegal drugs. Signs stating that the products sold "are for tobacco use only" are commonly posted.

Additionally, some head shops also sell extracts of salvia divinorum, a psychoactive plant, where this is legal. Some head shops in Canada also sell S. divinorum extracts while others refuse to do so.

By the early 2000s, with the passage of local laws allowing for medicinal marijuana, head shops have reemerged regionally and on the Internet to service that health market.

Smart Shops?

Smart shops are shops that sell psychoactive substances and related paraphernalia. Common products are magic mushrooms and bongs. Smart shops can be found primarily in The Netherlands (Holland), but also in other countries. Though "magic mushrooms" are considered hard drugs in most countries, Dutch law tolerates the sale of fresh, unprepared mushrooms (like any other produce), thus making it possible to sell them for recreational use.