Though its history goes back centuries, the trusty water pipe is at a crossroads, as marijuana legalization changes how pot enthusiasts consume their cannabis.
Several parts of the world lay claim to the invention of the hookah, bong, water pipe, bubbler or whatever you prefer to call it. There are the famous hookahs that reportedly originated in ancient Persia and India, as well as schools of thought that suggest the bong originated in Africa or that the term comes from “baawng,” the Thai word for marijuana pipe.
Whatever their provenance, water pipes have been part of America’s cannabis cultural landscape for decades now. But long-time observers see a trend away from cannabis smoke and towards vaporizing marijuana — which heats cannabis flower, oil or concentrate to just below its combustion point and turns it into a smokeless vapor, avoiding the irritating effects smoke can have on a consumer’s throat and lungs.
“I don’t think joints and water pipes will ever disappear, but smoking isn’t the healthiest way,” says Chris Bennett, a Vancouver-based cannabis historian during a phone interview with The Cannabist.