Picture of a man weighing weed nugs
What Is a Head Shop and Where Does the Term Come From?

When you think of a head shop, what comes to mind πŸ€”? Maybe it’s a small, dark, cramped store with blacked-out windows. Perhaps it’s a place that smells heavily of incense and sells drug paraphernalia. Or a more modern shop that sells cannabis lifestyle accessories like bongs, pipes, and rolling papers.

So, what exactly is a head shop? And where does the term originate from? In this article, we’ll be exploring the history of head shops and what they sell today.

What Is a Head Shop? 

Simply put, a head shop is an establishment that primarily sells smoking accessories.

Back in the 1960s, head shops got their start by selling items like pipes and bongs made for smoking weed. But that’s not all they were known for. 

Early head shops were also where you could find psychedelic art and underground films and books. In other words, they were a haven for counterculture expression.

Once they were on the map, they started popping up worldwide, first in the United States, then Europe, and the rest of the world 🌎.

However, the stereotypical idea that we all have about head shops is changing. With the legalization of cannabis in several states, many head shops can now sell cannabis themselves. They also carry a more comprehensive range of products, and some even have cafes or lounges attached.

Today, head shops sell pipes and bongs and a wide range of weed accessories. In addition, they often carry lifestyle items such as clothing, jewelry, and body care products. 

So, whether you’re searching for a new bong or just want to browse some counterculture items, check out your local head shop! If nothing else, it will be a wholesome reminder of how far the cannabis industry has come πŸ₯°.

Where Does the Term “Head Shop” Come From?

There is some confusion about the origin of the term “head shop.” Some people believe that it’s derived from the phrase “Get your head straight,” a phrase popularized in the 1960s and 1970s counterculture. 

Other people believe that the term comes from these shops selling items for your head, i.e., smoking paraphernalia πŸ˜Άβ€πŸŒ«οΈ.

The most likely explanation is that it’s a combination of both. Head shops were a place where you could go to get your head straight (or at least find some tools to help you do so). But they were also a place where you could buy items to explore your countercultural side 🀩.

Head Shops and Cannabis Culture
Cannabis Culture

Head shops and cannabis go hand-in-hand, so head shops have a solid connection to cannabis culture. 

In the early days of head shops, they were one of the few places where you could find smoking accessories. This made them a popular destination for cannabis smokers. Head shops were also a place where people could learn about and meet like-minded individuals. 

Nowadays, head shops are still a popular destination for cannabis smokers. They offer a wide range of products, and employees are often passionate about what they do and available to answer your questions. 

The Grey Area

Since cannabis is federally illegal, head shops walk a fine line. In most places, selling drug paraphernalia is technically legal, but selling products specifically designed for cannabis use is not. 

This means that head shops must be careful about what products they sell. The laws also vary state by state, making things even more complicated. For example, some head shops will sell bongs with a carb hole, while others will not. It all depends on the state laws and what the head shop is comfortable with.

You even have to be careful about the terminology you use 🀫, especially if you’re in a state where cannabis is still illegal. 

For example, some head shops might sell “water pipes” instead of bongs. Or their products may even have stickers saying “for tobacco use only” or something similar.

This all might seem a bit silly, and truth be told, it is πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ. But it’s the reality that head shops must deal with.

Smoke Shop vs. Head Shop

Now that you know what a head shop is, you might be wondering how it’s different from a smoke shop. 

A smoke shop is an establishment that sells tobacco products and smoking accessories 🚬. This includes everything from cigarettes to cigarillos to pipes and bongs. 

Some smoke shops do not sell cannabis-related items. However, many do, and the line between the head shop and the smoke shop is often blurred. 

In some cases, the two terms are used interchangeably, but there are some key differences.

For example, head shops typically have a stronger focus on cannabis. They may sell items like tapestries and posters with cannabis-related designs. They may also have a lounge area where people can socialize and consume cannabis. 

Now, there are also vape shops that are similar to smoke shops but with a focus on vaping. These shops sell vaping products and accessories and provide a similar atmosphere but for vaping instead of smoking.

What Will I Find Inside a Head Shop Today?

Nowadays, head shops come in all shapes and sizes. They can be anything from a small shop with a few shelves of pipes to a large warehouse with an extensive selection of weed accessories. 

Typical items found in a head shop today include:

They also carry things like incense or postersβ€”basically, anything associated with weed. 

Head shops are a great place to find all your cannabis smoking needs and accessories. They also offer a glimpse into new products you can check out.

Head Shop Etiquette

When you walk into a head shop, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, be respectful. This is someone’s place of business, and they have the right to refuse service to anyone if they please βœ‹. 

Second, be careful when handling the products. If you break something, you may be required to pay for it. Don’t touch anything without asking first. The staff knows what’s okay to touch and what’s not. 

Also, be sure to browse before you buy. Head shops typically have high-priced items, so you want to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. 

Finally, have fun! Head shops are a great place to find weed accessories and learn more about yourself and the world of cannabis. So, take your time, explore, and see what works best for you 😁.

Online Head Shops

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of online head shops. This is because many people prefer to shop for their cannabis accessories online 🧐. 

Online head shops offer a wide range of advantages, such as convenience, privacy, and access to higher-quality products. 

Benefits of using online head shops include:

  • The ability to shop from work or the comfort of your own home
  • Discounts, sales, and rewards programs
  • A more comprehensive selection of products and brands
  • In some cases, discreet shipping

Buying products online from a head shop is just like any other online store experience πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸ’». However, since you can’t see the products or hold them, do your research before making a purchase. 

Be sure to read the product descriptions and reviews before you buy anything. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you’re getting what you want. In addition, it’s essential to make sure that you’re buying from a reputable source because many scams and fake products are being sold online. 

Finally, check the shipping times and policies of the online head shop before you make a purchase.

The Future of Head Shops

With cannabis becoming more mainstream, head shops will likely become more accepted. This means that we could see head shops popping up in more places and selling a wider range of products. 

We could also see more online head shops and brick-and-mortar stores starting to sell cannabis πŸͺ. 

Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: head shops are here to stay! They can make it through anything if they’ve made it this far during prohibition.

Why Are Head Shops Allowed in The UK But Weed Isn’t?

To put it simply, in the UK, it’s legal to smoke tobacco and other herbs/spices (lol), but it’s illegal to smoke weed, or possess it, or sell it, etc. Products sold by head shops work on your favourite kitchen herbs and tobacco, since the products were designed for a herb…get it? It’s Just a Herb. Classic. To appease Johnny Law, this isn’t a suggestion to use our products on such a deadly, life destroying herb…

Unless you’re reading this at a time where weed is legal in the UK, in which case


Since the early hippy heydays, head shops have been an integral part of cannabis culture πŸ’š. Of course, they’ve evolved over the years, but their mission remains the same: to provide cannabis smokers with the products they need and educate the public about cannabis culture. 

So, there you have it! That’s everything you need to know about head shops. 

Be sure to check out your local head shop the next time you’re looking for smoking accessories or want to learn more about the world of cannabis. And, if you’re not into head shops, you can always shop online! There are plenty of reputable online head shops that can provide you with everything you need.

What do you think of head shops? Do you have a favorite head shop that you like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

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