Even in weed-legal utopias like Washington and Oregon, the finances of the pot business are dicey. Because the drug remains federally outlawed, banks won't touch weed money, leaving business-owners without a safe place to keep cash. Others in this situation might invest their profit in art, or vintage cars, or real estate, but these are potheads we're talking about, so they're spending it on ridiculously expensive bongs shaped like Beaker and Big Bird.
At BuzzFeed, Amanda Chicago Lewis reports on the phenomenon, which has cannabis entrepreneurs making long-term investments in pipes, just as one would with non-smokeable art—and using them for straight-up money laundering. The process, as Chicago Lewis explains it: take the pile of cash you earned from your dispensary that day, buy a $10,000 bong with it, turn around and sell that $10,000 bong to some other poor sap, and voila: you've got a bankable check.
One very wealthy bong enthusiast interviewed in the piece claims to have half a million dollars worth of handcrafted glassware stashed in his mom's basement (lol). The gold-encrusted Damien Hirst lookalike above, by a sculptor named Scott Deppe, is on sale for $100,000.
The fiscal plight of the legal potrepreneur is a legitimate one, but it's hard to believe that the market for garish five- and six-figure weed receptacles—likely inflated significantly by hype around legalization—will be able to sustain itself for very long. What happens when the bong bubble bursts?