By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
For others, it's a triple-chambered, handmade-in-America ROOR glass water pipe.
But to really complete the dope fashion scene, stoners also need the high-quality pot that drug czar John Walters has been complaining about.
Government researchers say marijuana, in general, has grown stronger since the 1990s. The University of Mississippi Marijuana Potency Project recently found that average levels of THC, the active ingredient in pot, are more than twice as high as in the late 1980s.
Users say even better weed skunk, chronic, kind with up to 15 percent THC, has been pouring into Arizona from California and Oregon, as well as from local indoor growers. Users covet the better, more expensive pot, which they say tastes better and requires fewer puffs to achieve the desired effect, over crappy weed called schwag. Cannabis connoisseurs seek out different strains of marijuana as if they were fine wines, paying $80 to $600 an ounce, according to sources like www.hightimes.com.
Putting skunk weed in a plastic bong, tasteful stoners explain, would be kind of like putting a pricey Cabernet in a Dixie cup.
Fancy bongs, then, aren't such a bad idea, after all. As fashion accessories and symbols of status and freedom, they make perfect sense.
Or maybe well-to-do potheads are just getting too high.
Joy doesn't call herself a stoner. She's just a person who likes to smoke pot every day. And she likes to do it in style.
She's got a collection of water pipes, and her most prized is a little pink-and-green glass "bubbler," a small bong she bought about seven years ago. It's not her most expensive piece (she got it on sale for $150), but it's a doozy about a foot long with swirls, shimmers, a pot-leaf emblem, carefully crafted inner chambers, twists of glass, and delicate horns.
She describes the day when, three months after she bought it, she noticed a "perfect little alien head" inside the bong that was visible only under the right light. Awesome. Joy pulls out the bubbler only on special occasions, and when she does, "I lay down the rules. Take off your rings. You're not going to be anywhere around tile or wood. You have to be on carpet. I'll cry if I break this."
Joy isn't her real name, of course. She might get busted if her name was published, given that she admits she's committing felonies. It's not hard to find stoners it just takes a bit of chatting with the customers of Phoenix and Tempe head shops. (To allow for candid discussion, New Times agreed to keep secret the names of several pot-smokers who talked for this story, including two head shop employees. First and last names mean the person agreed to be quoted. Just a first name means the person preferred to stay anonymous.)
A Phoenix real estate agent in her mid-20s, Joy grew up in a small Arizona town, the daughter of hippie parents who had many pot-smoking friends. She also considers herself a hippie, but that describes more how she feels inside than it does her appearance. Really, she's more like a yuppie. She owns a house and says she makes about $40,000 a year. She tries not to be stoned when taking a work-related phone call, knowing she won't be on top of her game. Usually, she sparks up at the end of the day, when she can "just chill," and she uses a less-sentimental $60 bubbler.
Like other smokers interviewed for this article, Joy struggles to describe what it is about pricey paraphernalia that attracts her. There's no single reason. Part of it is her view of herself as a "high-functioning" pothead. Maybe it's just her own prejudice or maybe she's been smoking the really good stuff but she believes stoners who use bland metal pipes instead of quality glass are probably the same clumsy, lazy, and stupid types who give ganja smokers like her a bad name.
"They don't go and buy stuff they want to take care of," Joy says. "They don't care if it gets fucked-up."
Joy is attuned to the art of bongs those for which artisans "have put their blood and sweat in it." Quality glass instruments make the experience of smoking even better and make her pastime seem special. She spent her late teens around pot smokers who'd "make [arty bong] pieces and take pride in them," she says. "That was somehow passed down to me."
Joy used to own a four-foot-tall bong that set her back $320 but her friend broke it during a smoke session. She likes to pop in the head shops around town to look at the latest creations, and hopes to build her collection.
"I'd like to have a shelf area," she says. "Then I can put them away and know they are going to be okay."
Tom, an employee of a local head shop, sits in his small Tempe apartment on a recent afternoon, inhaling marijuana smoke through one of his favorite bongs. His living room is sparsely decorated: He's got a medium-sized television, an inexpensive couch, a coffee table and a few chairs. When he pulls out his three very special bubblers, his priorities become clear. He estimates the pieces cost him about $1,200 altogether. They are the closest things to art he owns.
I worked radio i '78-79 when the marijuana tax stamp was in effect. Legal ownership. A $29 fine if not stamp existed. That separated marijuana buyers from the dangerous materials suppliers. Marijuana was NOT on the "problems" list of the police UNTIL the end of the tax stamp program which placed buyers in "impulse buy" situations. The end of the Tax stamp program can be shown by analysis to have INCREASED use of other "problem" substances as known in Emergency room-Law enforcement related public records. Legislators would do well for the public good to think less of pep rally cries and pay more attention to the medical and scientific facts paired with records analysis echoing summarization done in 1978 by a Federal Commission studying world social impacts of marijuana use which recommended opening the 1938 Tax statute-promised tax offices and OTC sale of marijuana. Medical prescription ability will find many of the nay-sayers of today themselves benefitting from prescription of a non-synergistic, non-potentiator therapeutic agent so effective in managing pain, stress, and sleeplessness.
Its an honer to be able to represent all the great American glass artist pushing the median to the next level,although its just a BONG or a PIPE!!Who ever said "That Ain't Art"!! Needs to get high!
I think the article was more political,than about the artist and how this art form is evolving into next generation.Sometimes the writer looks for controversy instead of the true since story.Like if everybody doesn't know the hypocritical smoke shop lingo rules!Magazine writers try to be sensational instead of informative and interesting.This story could have had a different ring, but where's the twist?The dam government!!
Thanks a lot for this article. Anyone saying "an article about bongs?" or "isn't this stuff illegal" shouldn't comment, this section is for people who READ THE ARTICLE. Go regurgitate your propaganda elsewhere.
Bongs? This rag has nothing better to write about? I look to the New Times for the stories that the Az Republic will not publish. Information. Not crap like this. I feel like someone stole time from me and I can only get it back by taking up your time with this response.
All I know is that some of the pieces I see at It's All Goodz are amazing! And to be able to watch the glass blowers do their work is really cool. If I had the money I would buy that spaceship piece at the start of the story!
People need to learn to tolerate other people's lifestyles more. If others enjoy doing it and you don't, well then don't do it. But don't tell other people what they can and cannot do.
There are plenty of people that use it for medical reasons, and although the article doesn't allude to it, you can bypass most of the harmful toxins by using a vaporizer or ingesting the cannabis through food.
Cannabis is amount the most benign "illicit" drug you'll ever find. No one in the history of mankind has ever died from the stuff. In fact, in many countries, elderly attribute their long lives to the drug.
Why don't these smokers realize high school is over....its not even healthy for anyone first off, and second, hello...its illegal, whether anyone thinks the government is stupid, or that it will be legalized "any day now", it won't be so grow up already!!
Good story! I love a paper that can tell it like it is. Thanks New Times. Pot > gonverment stupidity.