Cannabis accessories: The strange world of the ‘head shop’

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Cannabis is illegal and yet, in UK stores that sell marijuana paraphernalia operate openly on the main street. The “flagship store” is an institution that shows no sign of leaving, writes Helen Soteriou.

People may not be familiar with the term 1960 “flagship store”, but there is one in almost every British and American cities.

tend to make a lot of money from two product categories.

There are water pipes. Cigarette papers of all sizes and do. T-shirts with the legend “Adihash” in a reference to Adidas logo looking a bit like a leaf. Steel tubes. plastic grinders. Roll “machines” for cannabis smokers who can not be bothered to learn how to do it by hand. Various caps with Bob Marley

The other category is legal highs. -. Drugs formulated to prevent the legislation and the issue of perennial concern is breached after a series of deaths of high-profile

One of the last acts of the recently deceased Interior Minister Norman Baker it was to propose restrictions on shops head. He was speaking as part of an attack on the legal highs. The substances are a large part of the profits made by many head shops.

Amsterdam shop copyright images GETTY IMAGES
Description image in Amsterdam, cannabis is tolerated and possession of small amounts was decriminalized in the 1970s

“stores head could be left with nothing to sell but papers Rizla “Baker said.

Despite the prominence of the main store, operating in a curious legal twilight.

In the UK, the Interior Ministry says that there is no specific definition of “drug paraphernalia”.

But under Section 9A of the 1971 Act on drug use, it is an offense to supply a person or offers to supply any article that can be used to manage or prepare controlled for administering drug, if the person believes that the item can be used in cases where the administration is illegal.

In a judgment in a magistrates’ court, the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment and / or a fine of £ 5,000.

Earlier this year, Hassan Abbas, owner of Fantasy shop in Leeds, and his assistant store, were convicted of selling or offering for sale, items that are believed to be used for smoking cannabis . They were fined £ 800.

His appeal will be heard early next year, but the case has caused nervousness among retailers.

Cannabis lollies on sale in Camden, London

He has angered activists. “Bongs, pipes, grinders, and cigarette papers seized were legally purchased from wholesalers, after being legally manufactured in the first place,” says Darryl Bickler, a non-practicing attorney Equality Alliance drugs, one of the small groups advocating a change in drug laws.

“thought and free expression are being subsumed by the presumption of criminal intent by the association ‘deviant’ and images with simple objects. If the image of a plant offends as used in a particular context, it is censorship of a cultural icon. ”

The head shop owners are reluctant to talk about what they do, despite saying it is legal. “These guys are concerned is understandable since the police were abducting” says one of the owners who declined to be identified. “It is the responsibility of the store what a customer makes a product. Now it is quite clear that they are only to be used for legal purposes.

“All the big supermarkets sell cigarette paper extra large, often are used for smoking cannabis, however, I bet you will not always be getting a stroke of the old law. “

for the record, manufacturers Rizla cigarette papers as denying the strength they have products designed for cannabis. “Paper Size Rizla King smoking were introduced in 1977 to reflect the change of regulating cigarettes long-term king size,” says a spokesman. “They are made for adults who roll their own cigarettes with finely cut snuff. We do not condone or endorse the use of our products for other purposes.”

Despite the increasing liberalization of the US when it comes to laws on cannabis, people have been arrested for selling paraphernalia.

The actor Tommy Chong, star of the films of Cheech & Chong cannabis-themed, spent nine months in prison for his participation in a company that distributes water pipes and other paraphernalia. He says he started a bong company because people were using his name illegally in their own products, so we thought that this could sell your own.

“I was excited very early in my life. I was 16 or 17, and a jazz musician gave me a marijuana cigarette.”

Chong is in favor of further liberalization . It is said that those imprisoned for offenses related to cannabis have good behavior. “The Love Boat police also directs, because there is no danger. You’re not going to be attacked by some crazy meth whim, you know. Heads the well are very intelligent, very quiet.”

His conviction does not he has stripped the long-term potential of the company paraphernalia. You want to create a marijuana based theme park. “I’ve always had a plan to make a Hippie Land, you know, like the land of Disney. Cheech & Chong Hippy Earth and all that is in the works.”

The Republic of Ireland has already changed the law to make it harder for head shops to operate. Health Minister of Northern Ireland has advocated similar measures.

Tommy Chong sitting on his Jag copyright image Other

But the motivation behind the criticism is less about paraphernalia marijuana is legal drugs.

“head shops are not legitimate stores selling materials that could be used inadvertently. Rather, they are the sales channels of drugs that are under the incorrect legal drug,” says a spokeswoman for Department Health Northern Ireland.

Even for those who do not want the forbidden shops, there is still a belief that they are acting irresponsibly.

“Our main concern with head shops is the sale of new psychoactive substances [NPS or legal highs]. The ban on head shops would be unlikely to eradicate the sale of nuclear power sources and risks to create an underground, illegal sales network of nuclear power sources, “says Alison Christie, policy development officer at the Scottish families affected by alcohol and drugs.

If the shops were banned from selling legal drugs, it would be to rely on marijuana paraphernalia for their benefits.

And you can still leave them in the line of legal fire.

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