A head shop is a retail outlet specializing in paraphernalia related to consumption of cannabis, other recreational drugs, and New Age herbs, as well as generally selling counterculture art, magazines, music, clothing, and home decor. Products typically include water pipes (colloquially called bongs), roach clips, pipes, rolling papers and rolling machines, whipped-cream chargers (which contain nitrous oxide), blacklight-responsive posters, incense, cigarette lighters, and products claimed to give false negative results for drugs on urine analysis tests.
Head shops originated in the 1960s in cities with a high concentration of college-age youth, often growing out of independently owned poster or candle stores. They served as an important outlet for the underground comics of Robert Crumb and other counterculture cartoonists. The shops' popularity eventually waned with the aging of that era's baby boomer generation, and with the retail mainstream discovering and coopting aspects of that market niche, such as alternative music and eco-friendly products.
In the United States of America head shops exist in a legal grey area because of the nature of the materials they sell, which can be used for both legal and illegal drugs. Signs stating that the products sold "are for tobacco use only" are commonly posted.
Additionally, some head shops also sell extracts of salvia divinorum, a psychoactive plant since not scheduled in the United States (although it could be subject to the Federal Analog Act). Some head shops in Canada also sell s. divinorum extracts while others refuse to do so.
By the early 2000s, with the passage of local laws allowing for medicinal marijuana, head shops have reemerged regionally and on the Internet to service that health market.