Head Shops at Sundown: Grannies Blazing, and Other Advancements

By July 1st, 2018, the Federal government of Canada will presumably have stayed true to their election-winning, gilded promise to red-eyed Canucks: finally, legal cannabis for all adults nationwide (who can bear to handle the line ups, of course).


Not only will this bring changes for those already involved with Miss Mary Jane, and those who will (and have) started in anticipation of legalization, but even things for non-consumers are going to get odd. Even for you. Yes, you--and for your grandma, who is hopefully enjoying the vape I sold her for puffing her ‘pain relief herbs’.


As someone who has worked for two separate “specialty smokeware retailers” in economically contrasted cities, I have already observed some changes (beyond toking grannies) in the types of shopper attracted to shiny, smoke-able wares. This new demographic could include anyone from your parents, aforementioned grandparents, teachers, politicians, or probation officer (shout-out to the ‘Shwa, never change except please do).


Head shops have also become quite the couple’s destination now: less often are sales to scraggly drug dealers than they are to young couples shopping for waterpipes like they would a curtain set. I was once, on-clock, asked to consult, as part of a sale to a giggling bachelorette party, on the best way to combine an acrylic bong and a dildo (the bride’s gift, in lieu of strippers).


Even non-smokers are coming in more often for things like incense and candles (the ‘Playboy article readers’ of head shop customers) because they’re not afraid to enter the shop--and that’s a huge victory for the public’s perception of these kind of businesses.


Granted, these are still minor changes; the kind of person you’re likely to see buying a bong is still a droopy dude in bad pants. But shops like a dispensary in upscale Victoria (referenced here), and the growing popularity of bright, well-stocked ‘Wal-mart Waterpipe” chains (like The Peace Pipe and Happy Dayz) signal that sundown for traditional, dingy head shops may be imminent.


These changes may not be so apparent to outsiders yet; pot leaves still brazenly adorn head shop windows across Canada like so much overused symbology--uh, I mean, “relevant countercultural aesthetic”--but Nana Gerdy buying a Pax 3 because her opiates ‘back her up’ is the first step toward smokeware shops not being run by lazy ex-smokers and ambitious dealers.

(Not to mention that better run shops can help mitigate this ‘little’ issue)

My point is that, with impending legalization, Canada is going to see the scrubbing clean of a classic counter-cultural staple.

Whether you’re Mr. Bad Pants lamenting the ‘corporatizing’ of your hobby (or profession), Ol’ Gerdy replacing her vape screens on the way to church,  or somewhere in between--things are going to get a little dopey for a while.