Walk into any Tokyo Smoke location – the Canadian cannabis lifestyle retailer that has been compared to coffee giant Starbucks and minimalist Japanese housewares retailer Muji — and you’ll find all manner of sleek, aerodynamic pipes, gemstone pips, bamboo-and-glass bubblers, discrete grinders and ceramic pipes vaguely resembling the obelisk from 2001. You might also discover a $335 bong that, following the excuses of generations of busted teens, actually doubles as a vase (“put flowers in the porcelain vessel when company is coming over, put *flower* in the bong on other occasions,” reads the catalogue copy).
As pot legalization looms over Canada like a pale green miasma, shops like Tokyo Smoke reek of a new model: cultured retail experiences where classes of smokers from the unexperienced to the design-savvy and sophisticated can shop for marijuana conveyances and accessories without the bad puns and corny psychedelic upholstery that hitherto defined the head shop experience. It’s a place where you’re more likely to be called “sir” than “man.” It’s all very classy and tasteful as hell. Still, this sleekness and streamlining of cannabis retail speaks to a deeper lament: the impending legalization, and subsequent normalization, of pot, effectively marks the death of stoner culture.
Perhaps it’s just as well. For many smokers, stoner culture has been the worst part about enjoying marijuana. You know all the clichés: the white guy in a Cat in the Hat hat and “Take Me To Your Dealer” t-shirt who retrofits a Canadian flag with a pot leaf to wear as a cape as he hackey-sacks down to the annual 4/20 parade; who can recite The Big Lebowski and Dude, Where’s My Car? by rote; who calls snack food “munchies” and refers to Phish concerts by Month/Day/Year/Location notation; who owns, and has maybe even read, a book