where did the term head shop originate

Head Shop History: Why Do We Call It a Head Shop?

Head shops have become an established part of American counterculture. They sell items related to tobacco and cannabis, as well as other things like music and clothes. But the term “head shop” gets stranger the more you look at it. Let’s take a closer look at how head shops got their name, as well as how they operate.

Head Shop Origins

The ’60s were a drug-soaked time, so it makes sense that the first head shops began appearing in major cities in the middle of that decade. 1967 brought the release of the Jefferson Airplane classic, “White Rabbit,” and a clue might be in those lyrics. The song includes the line “feed your head.” That’s believed to be a reference to expanding one’s mind through drug use. What else do you call the mind? Well, sometimes you call it the head.

People who partake of certain substances are also known by names such as “pothead.” So that’s another way the term “head shop” could have gotten the name. Out of context, calling a retail store a “head shop” sounds weird and confusing, but it makes a lot more sense once you go back and examine what life was like in 1960s America.

That was 50 years ago, though. Nowadays, drugs such as cannabis are more accepted than ever. In fact, Americans overwhelmingly believe that using cannabis is less dangerous than using alcohol, opiates, and tobacco. The laws haven’t quite caught up with public opinion, though.

How Head Shops Operate

In 2015, the news agency Reuters reported that “As states and cities across the country have lowered the penalties for possession, a patchwork of federal, state and local laws means little has changed at the head shops.” That means there are still quite a few places where you can walk into a retail head shop and browse the merchandise, but if you’re going to use the accessories to help you smoke marijuana, you better not say that out loud. Think it all you want, but if you say it, store owners feel legally bound to refuse service to you.

Philadelphia is a good example of how this works. It’s one of a few Pennsylvania cities to decriminalize marijuana possession. If you’re caught with 30 grams or less of the substance, you’re looking at a citation and a fine of $25. That means customers are free to stroll into a head shop in Philadelphia without worrying that the cops are going to come after them. But once you walk into that shop, don’t be surprised if the signs inside reference smoking tobacco instead of cannabis. Don’t try to get anyone who works there to say the magic word, either. You’re not being funny; you’re just being weird and kind of a jerk if you do that. The employees know better than you do what words and phrases they can or can’t say.

It may sound paranoid to be that worried about getting arrested for drug paraphernalia, and experts say such raids are uncommon. But they’re not unheard of. Look at Operation Pipe Dreams in 2003. The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested 55 people on drug paraphernalia-related charges. The public at large wasn’t exactly clamoring for the feds to go out and arrest people like actor and comedian Tommy Chong, but it happened anyway. Chong was the only person who served any jail time, and critics called Operation Pipe Dreams a politically motivated stunt. It’s a reminder that while head shops provide a unique and useful service, they must be careful about exactly how they provide that service.

Head shops have become an established part of American counterculture. They sell items related to tobacco and cannabis, as well as other things like music and

Where Did The Name Head Shop Come From?

Although the word might have found itself into popular vocabulary, its origin is still confusing and elusive. While some claim that it originated from a nickname of the Grateful Dead fans and others purporting that it is a “He Eats Acid Daily acronym, this term is a 1913 slang originated seed word. It was this year that someone paired the “head” word to a drug to denote any subject as the addict.

When potheads and acid heads became pronounced American counterculture aspects in the late 60s, head shops started to cater for people that wanted to enhance their experiences.


These head shops commenced as a drug specializing in selling paraphernalia shops. You can highly rely on your head shop in carrying all goodies sorts to boost and stabilize your intoxication at optimum levels. From psychedelic incense and visual aids to rolling papers and water pipes, these head shops will ensure full satiation of getting high and in the mood. A good instance of such a local head shop that is aimed at creating maximum intoxication levels at optimum is at the head shop in Fort Lauderdale. They are highly experienced and know what to lace with what.

What is appalling is that these drugs weren’t an original inventory of head shop by themselves. As a matter of fact, state and federal laws found these head shops a skirting violation via utter and sheer creativity. To have the impression created that these shops’shelves weren’t meant for the use of drugs produced, particular incriminating words got banned from these stores and couldn’t be used.

By then if you dared to utter these certain suggestive words, you would get an ejection from that shop immediately, or in worst cases, you would earn yourself a total permanent ban.

These ban based on specific vocabularies is still existent in states that have not yet legalized the use of marijuana in complete effect.

In the somewhere late ‘60s, head shops became vital counter-cultural support points by providing a safe underground distributing publications haven which enhanced spiritual, esoteric practices or even questioned authorities — such political poignancy with time watered down gradually. In the early nineties, the aesthetics of head shop co-opted. It was now possible to walk to shopping malls to purchase a Bob Marley tie-dyed t-shirt, Che Guevara shot glasses as well as smiley black face light posters. The revolution was long sold with the requirement for these head shops no longer that immediate.

Reasons modern shoppers prefer online head shops

With this Amazon age, it is no more appalling that mortar- and brick- head shops find themselves in high competition with online head shops. Nowadays people find it very convenient to order from a modern marketplace to their homes which has now become a standard shopping experience. Despite this, there is something still magical about entering a brick-mortar head shop, knowing what is new as well as conforming with employees that can never fade anytime.

However if you are sure about what you would want to intoxicate and make you high, a very affordable and convenient experience would be hitting your favorite online headshop up. The head shops currently might have some resemblance and acute similarities to those who seconded the counterculture in the sixties. These at heart, they still offer similar services. Bob Marley tee shirts and glass pipes have never vanished and are still in inventory.

The question to leave you pondering about is if today’s headshops can still offer that countercultural poignancy and mind-blowing aids provided intrinsically by the word headshop by itself?

Although the word might have found itself into popular vocabulary, its origin is still confusing and elusive. While some claim that it originated from a… ]]>