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Article: Head Shop History: Where Did “Headshops” Originate From?

Head Shop History: Where Did “Headshops” Originate From?

Head Shop History: Where Did “Headshops” Originate From?

Headshops have acted as an established part of American counterculture since the 1960s. But with more than half of Americans believing that marijuana use is now considered “socially acceptable” in 2023, the idea of a modern headshop has greatly evolved away from its historical roots. 

Key Takeaways

  • A headshop is an establishment that sells cannabis paraphernalia and accessories
  • It is believed that the term "headshop" gets its name from the phrase, "Get your head straight"
  • Headshops do not typically sell cannabis like dispensaries do
  • It is believed that the first official headshop opened in 1966 in New York City
  • Modern headshops have evolved drastically from their historical counterparts

Once dedicated to alternative states of mind, headshops offered a sanctuary space for those interested in living that cannabis lifestyle. And while modern headshops still offer a similar sense of reprieve, some establishments are incorporating head shops into the wellness space, allowing customers a more intentional way of consuming cannabis. 

The history of headshops is murky at best. But below, we’ll take you through every contested debate within the cannabis community that has brought you the modern headshops you know and love today. 

What Is A Head Shop?

Headshops house all kinds of cannabis lifestyle accessories and paraphernalia, including pipes, bongs, joint papers, lighters, and more. Not to be confused with dispensaries, headshops do not sell cannabis but rather offer artful solutions to amplify your next smoke session. 

Early headshops typically contained only a small selection of pipes, and maybe some bongs. Some would even sell items associated with American countercultures like independent zines, psychedelic records, and underground books. 

Nowadays, modern headshops like The Flower Pot® have much more to offer. And we have a long lineage of rich history to thank for that. 

Where Does The Term “Headshop” Come From?

There are a number of different tales that claim to be the origin story of the “headshop.” Some claim that “head” is actually an acronym for “He Eats Acid Daily.”

Others argue that it’s a reclamation of the word “head” which was once used to describe addicts during the early 1900s. But more often than not, headshops are associated with the phrase, "get your head straight." 

“Getting Your Head Straight”

The drug-soaked 60s ushered in a type of hippie aesthetic that championed alternative lifestyles and independent thought. Turning to cannabis and other substances, smokers believed that such purchases brought a kind of mental clarity and peace. 

In fact, another common connection folks make to the term “headshop” is uttered by none other than Jefferson Airplane in the cult classic White Rabbit when he declares, "Feed your head!"

All of this is to say that “getting your head straight” is often ruled as a call to action–a call to follow the portal of escapism and mind expansion through alternative ways of being. 

The First Headshop

The first headshop is another contested debate among cannabis history buffs. But many have claimed The Psychedelic Shop in New York City as the first official headshop to open its doors on January 3, 1966. 

From there, more headshops began to open in New York, then made their way to the other side of the coast in California, namely in the San Francisco Bay Area. That being said, if you’re interested in going on a historical tour of headshops, you can still visit Captain Ed’s in Los Angeles which was established in 1967 and remains open today. 

First Headshop in the US

Is It Spelled Headshop or Head Shop?

As we’ve already covered, there are many mystery origins to the term and presence of headshops. And yet another debate to add to the pile is how to spell the term. 

Traditionally, people spelled “headshop” as one word, just as it was spoken. But, the era of cell phones and texting ushered in the separation of the words, “head” and “shop,” eventually making “head shop” the more commonplace spelling of the term. 

That being said, “headshop” remains the original term. 

What Is A Modern Headshop?

Enjoying cannabis has become far less stigmatized than it once was. And this has drastically changed the landscape of what a headshop is and what it can be. 

Modern headshops are much more transparent than their historical counterparts due to cannabis legalization in certain states. Plus, social media has allowed modern headshops to transform more into community spaces focused on art and enjoyment. 

At The Flower Pot®, we like to describe ourselves as headshop meets functional art gallery. With artisanally crafted cannabis accessories and plant-forward goods, we aim to bring peace and pleasure to the home while catering to responsible grown-ups who deserve artful cannabis tools. 

Because we don’t just want to facilitate your cannabis experience. We want to curate and enhance it. 

Plus, connecting you with the artisans who craft our products creates an indelible link between the art, the artist, and the consumer–a link that can deepen and enrich your experience all the more. 


Our luxury and design-centric homeware may seem like it’s worlds away from the early days of headshops in the 1960s. But it’s thanks to those rich origins that we bring you the future of luxurious smokeware and home accessories. 

At The Flower Pot®, our mission is to create a safe and reliable space for you to explore + experiment with the benefits of botanical medicine. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn

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