Everybody loves a spliff,” or so the saying goes, and it is true that for the majority of the non-marijuana-using public, the bitter, the reefer, the joint, the spliff, the cone, the doobie, the fat one, the L, whatever name you choose, the classic, paper wrapped, cardboard tipped marijuana cigarette is what comes to mind when conversation turns to”potheads” or weed smokers. The spliff (my term of choice,) is, generally speaking, the first, and I am sure in some cases the only, experience many of us have of the joys of cannabis smoking. There’s the convenience; someone’s always got tobacco, and you can usually beg a paper. There’s also the cost; buying baccy, or a packet of Rizlas won’t break the bank. On top of those things, there’s also discretion; “No Officer, the tobacco and the papers are for traditional roll-up cigarettes” beats “No Officer, it’s a three-chambered, resin stained flower vase, and err, that’s not a quartz nail.”
The apparent problem with the spliff is that often tradition leads us to mix tobacco with our marijuana, in fact, this is a necessity if smoking hashish. While not considered a significant issue for a long time, these days with the awareness we have about the harmful effects of tobacco, many users realize that smoking spliffs can be a risking business. From personal experience, I know the great sense of wellbeing that comes from tackling the day to day tasks of life with a good spliff hanging from my mouth. If it goes out, no problem, it lasts a bit longer, and I’m comforted by the knowledge that if anything comes up that requires a moment of contemplation, the simple act of lifting a lighter to my mouth will give me the lift I need. I’m sure many of you recognize this, but do you also realize the risks you are exposing yourself to by permanently having a “hippy cancer stick” stuffed in your mouth? Yes, yes, “Booooooring..” I hear you all groan, but fear not, that is the end of the bad news! Thankfully, due to the great ingenuity of humanity, there is a solution. You don’t have to face certain death at the hands of a dirty death cone, for we have bongs……
Bongs are much healthier for stoners than spliffs are. There, I’ve said it, and I’m a stalwart spliff smoker. Bongs are particularly significant for potheads who have asthma. The water in a bong helps to filter out up to 90 percent of the toxins of marijuana smoke, including the nasty cytotoxins which impair immune cells, and tar, which clogs up your lungs. And because the smoke gets so cold as it passes through the bong water, many percolators, and cold air, a bong rip is always smoother and more relaxed than a drag on a joint.
So there we have it, a doobie lover admitting that bongs are better! Now you know the health benefits of bongs, you’ll see this tool in a whole new light, and if you make the change from reefer to water pipe, you’ll be around a lot longer to enjoy marijuana than the rest of us cone loving connoisseurs.
When Early Stoner Man breathed in the smoke from those burning bushes it opened his mind, he was emboldened by the magical vapors, and despite his innate fear of fire, he took a huge step forward. Making a branch of the burning bush in his hand, he ran to the cave he called home and shared the smoke from this sacred plant with his family and neighbors. Everything changed from that point onwards. This First Contact leads to an explosion of creativity amongst Early Stoner Man, the desire to get baked leading to the creation of fire and the first stone tool, a thin, scraping device for carving chillums. The people also collected the marijuana seeds from the remaining unburnt plants, because they somehow understood the importance of their discovery.
Although Early Stoner Man had by now grasped the basic idea that seeds in the ground meant new plants, later on, he lived in an environment of natural abundance and farming had no real benefit. However, after a few seed-filled chillums they soon realized the value of seed-free weed and the need for a controlled growing environment. Thus the first cannabis farm was born. This invention enabled these early pioneers to protect and monitor the plants throughout their entire, and within a few seasons, they were producing the very first sense. Within a generation, these new smokers had built a chillum and sense trading network that stretched across the known world. This would lead to the foundation of the first cities, the development of the primary metal tools and the transition to what we now know as the Bong Age.
The Bong Age was a period of rapid technological advancement, and this is when we see the first evidence of the use of water to cool the smoke from burning marijuana. The cooling effect of the water meant that bowls could become more prominent and thus more marijuana could be consumed at one time. Initially, designs were simple, mostly a chillum jammed into a vessel to hold water, but as humanity demanded bigger and smoother bongs ever, new materials were sought. Bigger bowls meant bigger brains, and bigger brains meant better bongs, this virtuous circle drove the development of both Man and Bong for thousands of years. As we mixed and heated, crushed and dissolved our way through the various rocks and minerals we could dig up or find lying around, we discovered more and more about the world around us. This quest for the perfect smoke resulted in the discovery of glass and glassblowing, was the precursor to modern Chemistry and Physics and ultimately lead to the world we see around us today.
In 2018 some are claiming the Bong Age is over, the Era of the Vape is upon us. I’m not so sure. Which is to say we won’t be downloading plans for bongs and then creating them on the spot with a portable 3D printer connected to our smartphone? Or how about a collapsible graphene bong which folds flat or rolls up and can be slipped into a pocket? Mobile technology and the internet have revolutionized the way we communicate, nanotechnology and the Internet of Things could do the same for the way we smoke. The Smoker of Tomorrow may have a strip on the back of his or her watch, or in the collar of a shirt, that detects when you need a hit, formulates a mixture of cannabinoids from a selection of oils in your smartphone attachment, and puffs it directly into your nostrils from a tiny hole in your Raybans. That may well be the case, but for me, there will always be a place for a bong in my life, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.