Thoughts

Why Heady Glass is Dope

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With recreational marijuana now legal in ten states, and 33 states allowing medical marijuana, it’s high times for anyone involved in the cannabis industry.

Among the companies benefiting from this rapidly growing $52 million global market are those who produce the accessories needed to smoke, vape, or dab marijuana products. From rolling papers and dab rigs to vape pens and bongs, brick-and-mortar head shops and online retailers are amping up their offerings.

Today’s high-end consumers might drop lots of money on fancy rolling papers or vapes, but the most lucrative corner of the cannabis accessories market revolves around glass-blown, handcrafted pipes and bongs, commonly called heady glass, some of which can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. So what’s the big deal with bongs these days? Well, to figure out why and how heady glass has taken off, you should start with the basics.

What exactly is heady glass?

Heady glass is a term for high-quality blown glass used for cannabis consumption, including bongs, pipes, and dab rigs. Known for their one-of-a-kind artistic designs and breathtaking colors, heady glass pieces are painstakingly handcrafted by glass artists, many of whom are quickly gaining cult-like followings on social media as well as in art circles. Most heady glass is crafted to be a unique stand-alone piece, although in some instances an artist may produce a limited quantity of the same design. Regardless, heady glass is easily distinguishable from its mass-market, unimaginative cousins.

Is heady glass functional?

Some heady glass owners consider themselves art collectors, and will spend up to $10,000 a piece on bongs that are displayed, untouched, as values increase with an artist’s prominence. However, heady glass is fully functional, and some people simply prefer the experience of smoking weed from a beautiful bong instead of from a plastic pipe.

Heady glass designs incorporate the functional components of a bare-bones bong, including a tube, downstem, percolator, carb, and bowl, but often these elements are disguised as dragons, giraffes, cartoon characters, or any other number of fanciful and freaky designs. Unlike the more bare-bones scientific glass bongs, which are made of a thicker and sturdier borosilicate glass, heady glass can be delicate and thinner in places, but is still made to be enjoyed.

How did we get here?

Bongs have existed for thousands of years to facilitate cannabis and tobacco smoking, but it’s only recently that they have become widely accepted. After all, it was only 15 years ago that Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame) was sentenced to nine months in jail for selling glass pipes online.

But ever since 2012, when recreational marijuana was legalized by Colorado and Washington, DC — and perhaps even earlier, since California jump-started the massive legalization of medical marijuana in 1996 — heady glass has been steadily growing in popularity. Head shops and art galleries alike are showcasing larger displays of heady glass for a range of budgets and design preferences. Classically-trained glass artists also are sharing their work for purchase online by smokers and art collectors alike. There are even glass-blowing competitions and industry trade shows where heady glass artists can demonstrate their skills and hawk their wares to representatives of the more than 12,000 head shops in the US.

Unfortunately, with fame and fortune comes fraud, and heady glass artists are not immune. Several lawsuits were filed against makers of counterfeit heady glass, and some of the most reputable artists and manufacturers are now issuing guidance for potential buyers to ensure they are buying an authentic product. But legit heady glass is out there, if you know where to look.

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