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A Eulogy for DIY Stoner Culture

A farewell to apple pipes, gravity bongs and hotboxing in the era of artisan weed

Today’s DIY weed culture is so complex that it involves everything from cloning your own plants to extracting your own concentrates. Gone are the days of earnestly asking people if they blaze before sharing illicit seshes where you all get hella faded — at least in California. Now everything is about curating a more curious lifestyle and engineering pleasure. The war is no longer about who makes the dankest indicas; it’s all about whose bud is the most alive. As medical and adult-use marijuana programs roll out in more states than ever before, the artisanal weed industry is alive and well — and seemingly hiring excellent (or at least highly creative) copywriters.

Because I write about weed so regularly, I’ve been able to sample many of these fancy products. I’ve eaten edibles full of cold-pressed, organic and infused almond butter and drunk sparkly tinctures in which the weed terpenes were engineered for maximum flavor, giving the syrups a naturally herbaceous taste. I’ve even tried the “Hermés of weed,” which I genuinely love for its gorgeous packaging and delicious pastilles. Basically, my discerning eye is familiar with all of the products made for people who prefer to call weed cannabis, who are dead-set on creating high-end experiences that transcend the negative stereotype formerly associated with stoners.

Many of my friends, however, remind me that consuming these products is gentrification in its own right and mock such bourgeois weed products (along with the term cannabis).

They say the way we treat stoner habits of yore — calling them dirty and unsightly and less fun than contemporary options — is the same way we look at “dirty, unsightly and less fun” cities before gentrifying them, bulldozing over their un-Instagrammable aesthetics and replacing them with the uniform look now found in hipster neighborhoods around the world.

Ideologically, I’m smoking a joint somewhere between these two camps.

So while I’m looking forward to the next crop of deluxe weed products, I’ll also miss some of the shittier stoner hallmarks of the past. Namely…

The Apple Pipe

The original organic cannabis experience was to take an apple, bore out its core and create a similar orifice on its side (at about 3 o’clock to the core’s 12 o’clock). Of course, a lot of teens today might think of an apple pipe as an Apple pipe, a high-tech cannabis accouterment powered by Apple. But for a lot of us, the apple pipe was a gateway to weed autonomy, allowing us to consume without having to purchase anything suspicious from a headshop (another outdated concept) or hide any glass pipes or rolling papers from our parents or resident advisers.

To be honest, I learned how to make an “apple pipe” by Googling it, often using a ballpoint pen (which people also used to smoke) to carve out its architecture. So it’s not as though I grew up in the Dark Ages. But I’ve since watched a group of 18-year-olds place their Eaze orders and receive deliveries of top-shelf weed and organic cellulose papers in a matter of 20 minutes.

The Gravity Bong

The gravity bong is a coming-of-age trope perpetuated by characters in TV and movies, and occasionally heshers you meet at house parties and chat up until they offer you weed. I saw my first gravity bong in the extremely underrated Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles movie Down to You, in which Stiles’ character hits a gravity bong with her burner-esque roommate following a lovers’ tiff.

The point of the gravity bong? To get really fucking high. And maybe, for some, to show that they’re into chemistry, physics or any science that deals with water pressure.

Outdated stoners refer to gravity bongs as “geebs” (G-Bs, get it?) for short. In the book, Weed: 420 Things You Didn’t Know (or Remember) about Cannabis, the author even claims that smoking from gravity bongs (sometimes called bucket bongs) is healthier than other waterpipes and joint options because of the low pressure at which smoke is inhaled, meaning less work for the smoker and their lungs.

The Hotbox

In a world full of discreet ways to vape, I’m pretty sure hotboxing is going to go extinct. Factor small edibles into the picture and the activity is straight-up endangered, losing popularity as young people not only experiment with these different consumption options but also feel less fear about being busted.

And so, once a ceremonious exchange between friends in parked cars, a refuge from the 420-unfriendly, hotboxing is starting to sound more like what it actually is: a bunch of people stuffed into a car with the windows up.

That, like everything else above, is a total shame.