Head shops will kick you out if you say the word "bong?"

There are five head shops – uhh, I meant glass shops – within a two block walk of my workplace. Years ago, I’ve heard people say that if you’re in a head shop, and you utter the word “bong” to refer to their wares instead of using the words “pipe” or “glass”, the proprietors will get quite angry, and throw you out of the store. True?

I’ve heard that, never had it happen. Had something similar happen though. Some friends and I purchased some Nitrous Oxide Cartridges from a headshop. Just as he was handing over the money, he asked if they sell balloons. They guy handed the money back, took the cartridges off the counter and asked us to leave. Luckily, most of that stuff is all based on technicalities, so we just sent one of the other people that was sitting in the car in to buy them while we all yelled at the first guy for saying the word balloon…which we all know you don’t say, just like you don’t say bong, it’s a water pipe.

They skirt a fine line. Any hint of drug use could get them busted.

Tommy Chong went to prison 9 months, for selling glass water pipes. Somehow, they made the drug connection stick. He got screwed because of his image from Cheech & Chong.


in the UK bongs are openly labeled as bongs. The legal position is that you might want to buy one to smoke tobacco or some other legal foliage. You’d have to be some sort of nicotine fiend if you bought one for tobacco!

Interesting, I wouldn’t have known a balloon would be off-limits. What ostensibly legal purpose would people be buying nitrous carts for?

The couple times I’ve asked to look at, then purchased, pipes from head shops, the guy behind the counter (2 different guys in 2 different stores) made a pretty big show out of saying “this is where you put your tobacco” while explaining how to use it. I don’t mind.

I would think it would be if they are bigger than you or not.

They’re used for making your own whipped cream. In fact, I think the head shop I used to go to kept one whipped cream maker in stock (for sale) for plausible dependability. It’s when you buy the balloons that you’re clearly not going back to the dorms 3 miles away to make whipped cream.

This head shop also sold ‘tobacco’ to go with the water pipes. It was a little zip lock baggie with less then bowl full of what was probably technically real tobacco, but it looked and felt like paper to me. Never actually smoked it myself. It was just so you had something to show the cops if you got caught with it.

You work on Hertel, huh? Honestly, I’ve been to all the head shops around here and never heard of such a rule.

It is absolutely true, in my experience. I used to…uh, spend a lot of time in these shops, the first few years when I was in college. Some of them have signs saying stuff like “these are called water pipes, and they are for tobacco.” Or “Don’t use the B-word.”

The best record shop in my city also sold glassware. :wink: After 20 years the city finally harassed them enough to close. Anyone selling this stuff gets a lot of attention from the authority’s.

Ms Hook and myself were in New Orleans recently and went into just such a shop to look around. Over the case of their pipes and such like things was a sign saying something to the effect that anymention of illegal substances would get you thrown out.

Is “balloon” slang for something else, or do you use balloons to get off on nitrous oxide?

Many years ago, some friends and I learned that for a particular head shop - which openly sold only stoner-like things like incense burners, funky T-shirts, jewelry, etc. - you had to ask to see the incense burner catalog. They would ask if you were sure, because they had all of the available models in stock and there wasn’t anything new/different in the catalog. If you then confirmed that yes, you did want to see the catalog, they’d take you in back and show you the bongs.

We learned this because we went in asking to see bongs and got an immediate “no we don’t carry those, that’s illegal” response. I would expect from the reaction that they would have sent us packing if we persisted. Asking the friend who sent us there got a “…uh, oh yeah, here’s how you see the bongs” response, and the second visit went as expected.

It’s not slang. Discussion of the exact method may or may not be legal but it’s easy to google.

I’ve also used them to do a nitrous pour of a homebrewed stout from a mini-keg system.

Without getting into too much detail, the nitrous comes in a cartridge. Typically, you’d use the thing I linked to earlier to make whipped cream with that cartridge. But what some people do is use a a homemade apparatus that punctures the top and inflates a balloon with the gas. Then you can inhale the gas from the balloon. Inhaling it directly would cause frostbite on your throat/mouth/lungs etc…and it would just enter your mouth to fast to do anything useful with that.

Also, I assume you’re aware, but if your not, Nitrous Oxide is laughing gas.

ETA, check your PMs.

When I was in college (mid 80s) we had one head shop in town (which also sold comic books and gaming supplies, which was why I spent a lot of time there). I don’t recall their ever having an issue with bongs (I never heard anybody refer to them as anything but “water pipes”) but they had a real thing about scales. If you even hinted that you thought that the various scales they sold were for anything but weighing letters, they got very grumpy with you.

Here in Canada they sell bongs, at least the one around here does and they don’t mind talking about weed or anything related.

I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Paramount Imports in San Jose. They’ve been around forever, and no, they don’t like people using the term “bong”.

Paramount used to have the greatest blacklight/strobelight/color organ/poster room in the Bay Area. It had a kick-ass soundsystem and usually either KSAN or KSJO was blasting away. Ah, those were the days…There isn’t as much of a market for blacklight posters or color organs any more. Paramount still sells “smoking supplies”, rock ‘n’ roll paraphernalia, incense and the like, but the old blacklight room in the back is gone forever. :frowning:

I’ve wondered how the paraphernalia laws work now that medical marijuana is legalized at the state level in many places. There’s a head shop here in town that sells “tobacco” pipes (with a tiny packet of actual tobacco about a quarter the size of a postage stamp) but there’s also a medical marijuana dispensary that sells the same devices for smoking medical marijuana. Could the head shop legally sell a “bong” to someone with a medical marijuana license? Would they have to be licensed as caregivers themselves?

How is it that the term “bong” is illegal anyway, but not the device? Isn’t it still a bong if it’s used for tobacco? How is calling it a bong an admission of drug use?

Obviously this varies by state. I’m in Colorado (but moving to California soon) but I’d be interested in answers for any jurisdiction, since I’m just curious, not planning on opening my own head shop.