up in smoke
February 24, 2003 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Operation Pipe Dreams And Headhunter - retail smiley-face ceramic pipes are gone. The DEA, maintaining its track record of ineffectual policies, programs, methods, procedures, and purpose has successfully brought an evil crime ring to its knees. No more will you have to worry about tobacco water pipe accessory related muder or hippy headshop related gang activity. In addition to striking fear in the hearts of college freshman and sophmores everywhere, I hope this spells the beginning of the end of those who would sell incense and tapestries to our children. OUR CHILDREN.
posted by jdaura (54 comments total)

 
How to make a bong from household materials.
A bong made from a Mac SE30.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:24 PM on February 24, 2003


its a relief to see our government officials are focused on other important matters while theres a war on terror going on.
posted by specialk420 at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2003


stone them !
posted by Postroad at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2003


Thanks, mr_roboto, that may come in handy. And thanks for putting this up, jdaura. It would be laughable if it weren't part of an overall campaign to subjugate and intimidate harmless Americans in order to prove the "tough guy" cred of bumbling zealots like Ashcroft.

Am I the only one who saw that photo of the marker and said "wow, I need that!!"?{
posted by soyjoy at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2003


very well-reported at cnet.

the most disconcerting thing to me, aside from the fact that the government is expending an iota of energy on social drug users right now, is the fact that the sites now redirect to a dea website, essentially creating a massive honeypot for the feds to entrap casual drug users and those who dare to roll their own cigarettes.

or, as declan mccullagh so nicely spells it out:

Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said redirecting Web visitors to DEA.gov raises novel legal issues. "It sounds like this is a concluded drug operation segueing into a new sting operation," he said. "In effect, the defunct Web sites become electronic flypaper for those looking for illegal drug paraphernalia, reporters covering the story, and people who have trouble spelling in Google."

The DEA.gov site's privacy policy, which is the same as other Justice Department sites, permits it to give personal information about visitors to law enforcement. It says "we may take additional steps to identify you based on this information, and we may share this information, including your identity, with other government agencies."

posted by damn yankee at 6:37 PM on February 24, 2003


soyjoy: that was my first thought, too. "A marker! How cool is that!"
posted by swerve at 6:48 PM on February 24, 2003


I always wondered how those places got away with it, anyway.
posted by cinderful at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2003


proposal:

EVERYBODY visit these sites that were shut down, with an extended url that sends them a message, if they're tracking. Like
this.

that sort of thing. Linux users, put it in your cron job as a wget every 5 minutes. And so forth.
posted by condour75 at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2003


but with an http:// in front ... good grief. I really shouldn't post mad.
posted by condour75 at 6:54 PM on February 24, 2003


I saw the marker and thought, my god, the fumes from overheated plastic would kill ya.

Why haven't Americans overthrown their government yet? How much more shit y'all gonna put up with?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:57 PM on February 24, 2003


five fresh fish: You know the story about how to boil a frog? It's the answer to your question, more or less.
posted by Zonker at 7:04 PM on February 24, 2003


I agree 5ff; it's about time all those red neck, gun-totin' militia type stuck to their word and used their guns in defence of the people. Although, I can't talk, the government of my country just made another innocent herb illegal, a step even the US hasn't taken yet.
posted by Jimbob at 7:26 PM on February 24, 2003


So "the belly of the eagle" is actually a bong? Amazing! I never would have guessed. Thankfully Ashcroft understands the terrorist mind better than I do. Bin Laden must have a secret stash of Afghan hash which he is planning to use to get the American heartland stoned. The cad!
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on February 24, 2003


Perhaps they were under the impression Osama Bin Laden had fled to America and disguised himself as a headshop dealer.

Remind me why I pay taxes again?
posted by Spezzatura at 7:41 PM on February 24, 2003


How do they differentiate between a drug pipe and a tobacco pipe? A bong, sure, but a clay or wood bowl? Why can't you claim you smoke (non-wacky) tobacco in it? Shouldn't a person have a right to smoke legal tobacco in any shape pipe s/he pleases? And should they ban the normal tobacco-style pipe found in drug stores and smoke-shops just because you could conceivably smoke pot or hash in it?

Maybe they should ban toilet-paper rolls and aluminum foil, too? These measures will obviously stop pot-smoking as soon as they are enforced...
posted by Shane at 7:41 PM on February 24, 2003


These people are freaking insane. This is how they spend our resources when we are on *orange* alert? Arresting a bunch of zigzag vendors?

I shudder to think what these people are going to do under the name of national security once the iraq war starts.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:43 PM on February 24, 2003


You're completely right Shane, people should be able to purchase any kind of paraphanalia for whatever purpose they desire. It is their right, but rights have been thrown out the window in the War On Drugs. Really, when you get down to it, people should also have the right to put whatever they want into their own bodies, and plant species should have the right to grow no matter what chemicals they contain. All that's irrelevant in the current social climate.

By the way; bong shops here Down Under get away with selling whatever they want by sticking "For Tobacco Use Only" signs up everywhere. Is this how it works in the States too?
posted by Jimbob at 7:52 PM on February 24, 2003


By the way; bong shops here Down Under get away with selling whatever they want by sticking "For Tobacco Use Only" signs up everywhere. Is this how it works in the States too?

Yeah, you have to post "For Tobacco Use Only" if you sell things in a head shop. And if you're selling bongs, you have to call them "water pipes".
posted by SweetJesus at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2003


"[People selling drug paraphernalia] are as much a part of drug trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."

That's probably correct.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:05 PM on February 24, 2003


Oh, and remember: when you use illegal drugs, you're "supporting terror." And when you support terror, you become an enemy combatant. (I know that this hasn't happened quite yet, but some precedents have already been set.)

Solution: Use legal drugs.
posted by LimePi at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2003


"People selling drug paraphernalia are in essence no different than drug dealers," said Acting Administrator Brown. "They are as much a part of drug trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."

I like the way that he uses the example of 'silencers' as paraphernalia for homicide. Because I would always have though that guns were the real murder paraphernalia. But I doubt that the NRA-endorsed Attorney General is about to start raiding gun shops any time soon. Strange that you can adopt the 'it's not the tool, it's the use of the tool' argument for a gun, but when it's a roach clip, then, um, it's the tool.

My oh my, is the USA so completely fucked.
posted by riviera at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2003


here's what bothers me (re the flypaper analogy i mentioned above): i went online looking for a rolling machine and some other supplies last month, because there are no full-fledged head shops in my area. i went to at least three or four web sites that sells "illegal drug paraphernalia." what happens to the person who goes looking for those products now -- be they for legal or illegal drug use -- and ends up on one of the unfortunate sites that's been hijacked by the feds? is their information stored in a database? surely. but then what? what kind of list are you on?

one could argue that if a drug is illegal then implements used exclusively with that drug should also be illegal, and that the government is doing nothing more than enforcing its own laws.

on the flip side, one could argue that you can never tell in advance what use somebody will have for a little metal spoon.

but i guess i'm more fundamentally bothered by the fact that our government prefers to waste so much money persecuting people who use a victimless social drug like pot. and that it just got this much easier for them to do so.

(and of the people whose weed comes from foreign suppliers involved in terrorism and revolt, the government would have no worries if domestic production was legal.)

[on preview: what everybody else said.]
posted by damn yankee at 8:13 PM on February 24, 2003


I think I have divined the second part of the DEA's Operation Pipe Dream....

Wicked fiendish plan, really.

Next comes a massive and unprecedented DEA initiative to jail any American citizen found with the makings of a hydroponic marijuana greenhouse, which of course are stored water, plastic sheeting, and duct tape.


posted by Dunvegan at 8:23 PM on February 24, 2003


I shudder to think what these people are going to do under the name of national security once the iraq war starts.

It might look something like this.
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on February 24, 2003


I wonder during (alcohol ) Prohibition did they think to arrest people who possessed or sold ordinary coffee cups, as it became the custom to do, to conceal its actual contents? This is just so ludicrous it astounds me. I hope they don't discover what you can actually use tampon wrappers for.
posted by SweetIceT at 8:58 PM on February 24, 2003


I don't even smoke pot, but that gas mask was bad-ass. In addition to the signs saying "For Tobacco Use Only", a head shop in Waco that many of my Baylor friends utilized frequently (and I visited several times) actually had a sign up that said something to the effect of "Please note: Using any of the following terms will get you thrown out of our shop: bong, water-bong, pinch-hitter, crack pipe..." etc. with about 45 different terms on it. They were some, um, paranoid individuals.

And SweetIceT, that's a new one on me....what is it?
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:03 PM on February 24, 2003


I don't know if your being facetious Ufez, but I'll bite. You can use tampon wrappers to roll a joi...uh... ah... tobacco products yes yes thats what I meant to say..I swear!
posted by SweetIceT at 9:09 PM on February 24, 2003


Shhh don't tell anyone......Its a huge secret
posted by SweetIceT at 9:10 PM on February 24, 2003


So, OK, the concept here was to bust people who sell water pipes. So our intrepid agents in the war against terra had someone come to each city and skulk around, toiling away for upwards of - what? - Twenty-Five Minutes going through the local YELLOW PAGE S???

And this operation took how long?

Oh, right, they needed the extra time to evaluate the... right... okE
posted by soyjoy at 9:10 PM on February 24, 2003


Netscape keeps adding final characters to my posts...
posted by soyjoy at 9:12 PM on February 24, 2003


Yeah, you have to post "For Tobacco Use Only" if you sell things in a head shop. And if you're selling bongs, you have to call them "water pipes".

I don't think that is necessarily true. The bongs at Tela Ropa and Slacker Inc (two Pittsburgh stores that were caught up in all of this) were marked as tobacco pipes and they're still in trouble.
posted by guyincognito at 9:23 PM on February 24, 2003


ha, soyjoy - you think it's netscape, but it might be that agent who has been following you around. Have you seen anyone dressed like this today? (flash & usa warnings)

homunculus, thanks for that link - I should sleep soundly tonight now! Yowza.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:24 PM on February 24, 2003


I don't think that is necessarily true. The bongs at Tela Ropa and Slacker Inc (two Pittsburgh stores that were caught up in all of this) were marked as tobacco pipes and they're still in trouble.

If you walk into any Ethnic Concepts (RI chain-ish head shop) you'll see a sign on the wall that says "If it rhymes with wrong, don't say it - it's a water pipe". Bongs aren't illegal (mine glass one is sitting on my table) to sell as long as they're marked for non-illegal purposes.

They also always card you when you walk in, if you look young.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:36 PM on February 24, 2003


"marked" should be "marketed". I don't know how that got by.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:37 PM on February 24, 2003


madamjujujive, just watch this before you go to bed and you will have the sweetest of dreams.
posted by homunculus at 10:00 PM on February 24, 2003


Something is strange about this - like the DEA is enacting a Federal Law that usually isn't enforced on the local level or something . . . I've lived in four states in the past five years, Pennsylvania (where the most busts took place), Colorado (where head shops abound) Eugene, Oregon (where Jerome Baker Glass design - one of the most pre-eminent glass "designers" of the world was busted in operation Pipe Dreams) and Washington (where you can buy glass pipes in Gas Stations throughout the state !) . . . and never got the impression, in any state, that the headshops were in any way violating US law. I think what we're looking at here is a bullsh*t PR campaign by the conservative administration to smokescreen middle america into thinking Bush and Ashcroft are tough on drugs.

This wasn't an operation. Soyjoy was right, they just flipped open some phonebooks, maybe did a google search for "Glass pipe shop", and went and arrested a bunch of hippies then issued a friggin' press release standing around a podium looking tough on crime.
posted by jdaura at 10:06 PM on February 24, 2003


I think what we're looking at here is a bullsh*t PR campaign by the conservative administration to smokescreen middle america into thinking Bush and Ashcroft are tough on drugs.

Which fits in with the recent bust of Psilocybe Fanaticus, who sold mushroom spores, perfectly legal within federal law.
posted by lasm at 10:38 PM on February 24, 2003


This is intolerable.

So, what do we do?

I mean, besides bitch about it on the Internet.
posted by majcher at 10:57 PM on February 24, 2003


So, what do we do?

Vote in all your elections (local/state/federal). Other than a full-scale revolution, that's about it. I mean, can you imagine a stoner army? They'd have to take breaks every half-hour or so for Fast Break bars. And instead of intel briefings they'd just watch Blazing Saddles or Bill & Ted.

Um yeah, that's just what i've heard about stoners.

And if you guys think the marker is cool, you should see the one that looks like a duracell, or a cigarette, or my (er friend's) fave...the spleaf. Size of a credit card.
posted by raygun21 at 11:23 PM on February 24, 2003


So, what do we do?

Apple pipe.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:32 PM on February 24, 2003


The operation wasn't a complete flip-thru the yellowpages deal. I reported on this story for my campus newspaper in Eugene Oregon, and when I went out to the Jerome Baker warehouse the place was crawling with agents. Apparently that particular warehouse was rumored to be used to traffic pot - tho I wasn't able to find that out for sure.

Other headshops in town didn't seem to be targeted by the operation - so while I realize the logic for this whole lockdown by Ashcroft is bullshit, there could be some more legitimate reasons for doing it.

(that is, if you think breaking up a pot ring is a good use of DEA resources.)
posted by Happydaz at 11:54 PM on February 24, 2003


{sarcasm}
Thank God these evil-doers have been taken care of! Evil, evil bongs!
{/sarcasm}

These are dark days in which we find ourselves. Is there no end to the absurdities of this administration? America!...marijuana is an ingrained part of our society. Whether you smoke it or not, that is an irrefutable fact. Whether you know it or not, your friends and family smoke it. It ain't going away. Get used to it.
posted by wsg at 2:16 AM on February 25, 2003


DEA is enacting a Federal Law that usually isn't enforced on the local level or something

Yep, just like the California thing. And as for this recommendation:

Vote in all your elections (local/state/federal)

...well, I refer you to the links above.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:24 AM on February 25, 2003


This whole thing is entirely outrageous. The amount of violent crime that needs attentions is staggering. The poverty levels of our lower classes and recent immigrants is amazing. The list of problems could go on and on, but one thing that WILL NOT be on the list, is our desperate need for less pipes/bongs.

What are these idiots trying to accomplish here? Are there actually people in America who read about this or saw it on the news and though "Way to go, I was just waiting for someone to step up and do something about those pipe sellers."?
posted by Addiction at 4:26 AM on February 25, 2003


That Mr. Ashcroft........He's a busy little bee!

How he gets so much done after all those complex annointing-his-body-with-sacred-oil rituals I'll never know.
posted by troutfishing at 4:37 AM on February 25, 2003


I understand they also siezed several of those baseball caps with attached beer can holders and the tubes that go down to your mouth ... no, wait, those have been legal since they ended prohibition.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:35 AM on February 25, 2003


And they went after Tommy Chong's "Chong Glass" business! The hell?
Chong, once one-half of the high-flying (literally) comedy team, Cheech & Chong, saw his Gardena, California, factory and Pacific Palisades home raided Monday by federal drug agents and other authorities, Los Angeles TV station NBC4 reported.
posted by Lori at 6:40 AM on February 25, 2003


sorry this is so long, but...

So there is always the question of why? Why are they(the gov) wasting their time and our money fighting this seemingly insignificant drug. For some of you who haven't even tried pot this might be new, but for most, like many of the other replies have eluded to, this will probably just resonate.

Well, pot is not insignificant and in fact it is socially more powerful than most of the other chemicals available to US citizens. It is classified (by them) as a mild hallucinogen. Metaphorically, it is a surfactant. A bridge between two seemingly different places whether physical or mental. In the US I have found that it is one of several chemicals that promote communication and connections between people across a wide variety of ethnicity and social classes. Promotes diversity of thinking, people, you name it. There are so many stories of kids who were part of different social scenes in high school who would go out to the woods to get high and inevitably meet kids from other social scenes, bringing their worlds together. They weren't really all that different they just had different coping mechanisms for the incredibly harsh and constrictive environment of being young and stifled. Now as it did then, it further continues to bridge worlds throughout adulthood. And the ultimate beauty of this substance is that it is a plant and has had a long history of evolving right along side the other life on this planet, so it has had quite a case study done on its long term effects. It is also a weed. That is right, it is nearly impossible to get rid of. Like human spirit? Anyway, the overuse of pot, just like anything ingested into your body and not used in balance will kill you now or later(smoke inhalation for one). But with a balanced approach there are few other negative aspects. Oh yeah there is paranoia, or as i like to think of it, sensitivity. Is that negative? Well in our society I believe the answer is yes! My guess is that this branch of the drug war is a war on divergent thinking, as are most forms of government. If you can develop an overeager mind you might also be able to understand the systematic process the government is implementing on a larger scale than you ever realized. Pot has been used for eons to further thought and to help people connect with a different scale of existence. While the majority of people view pot as something trivial, I really think that this is serious business and a heightened vigilance by all of this kind of restrictive behavior is desperately needed as everyone is mentioning. Time to get creative folks, me included!

in peace.
posted by proof_nc at 7:07 AM on February 25, 2003


So, what do we do?

Vote in all your elections (local/state/federal). Other than a full-scale revolution, that's about it.

So, it's pretty obvious that voting doesn't work. On a federal level, the popular opinion is a joke. Local and state propositions are ignored or attacked by the attorney general. These are the grumpy old guys at the top pursuing some kind of insane vendetta against mostly harmless potheads.

I don't even use, and I've been getting more and more pissed off every time I've seen this story in the last 24 hours. I want to do something. I want to make these insane bastards stop. I feel completely powerless and frustrated, and I feel like there's nothing that I - or anyone - can do but sit tight and wait for them to get voted out. If they decide that elections aren't too disruptive to their efforts against terror, when the time rolls around, that is. I feel like the proverbial boiling frog, and there's nowhere to jump to, and my little froggy arms can't turn the burner off.

So, now what?
posted by majcher at 7:38 AM on February 25, 2003


proof_nc, the only thing missing from your eloquent explanation of why pot is significant (and I believe it was implied) is that it's exactly this effect - fostering creativity and communication among those outside the power loop - that makes it, against all reason and logic, a dangerous substance which the goverment must control and suppress, while alcohol, whose effects are anti-thought and anti-communicaton - and whose worst case scenario is people acting like assholes and trashing themselves, their friends, family and/or neighborhood - is a benign substance to be taxed and winked at.
posted by soyjoy at 9:58 AM on February 25, 2003


Just came across this somewhat related story. Scroll down for percentages. Within that THREE PERCENT, I'm sure the stats for water pipes alone must be HUGE.
posted by soyjoy at 11:33 AM on February 25, 2003


Wow, are things so slow at the Justice Dept. that they can spare agents for this kind of bullshit? Wasn't there a copier or a fax machine somewhere that needed un-jamming?
posted by Ty Webb at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2003


majcher: Looks like the only thing to be done is to toke up and relax. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:35 PM on February 25, 2003


Bah! When I were a lad, we didn't need none o' that factory-made bong rot! We made our bongs out of Mason jars and bits of plumbing, and we liked it! And it were a three-mile walk to the dealer's, uphill both ways, in the blowing snow!

Hey Ashcroft, you missed the world's biggest manufacturers of Coke can pipes--fiendishly disguised as "soft drink cans." Is there some sort of 1-800-RAT-M-OUT number I can call to pass this info on?
posted by arto at 2:57 AM on February 26, 2003


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