My Years With Proto Pipe

Always a marijuana smoker and a gadget fan, I was instantly attracted to the Proto Pipe. The ultimate pot smokers’ pocket “tool”, the Proto Pipe represents the perfect marriage of functionality and design.

protopipe_adI first saw the “ad” for the Proto Pipe in Dr Atomic’s Pipe and Dope Book, an underground comic by Larry Todd, creator of “Dr Atomic”. I knew I had to have one of my own. I got a postal money order, sent it off to Willits, CA and anxiously waited for my Proto.

When the package finally arrived, I was sent a notice to pick it up at the Post Office. Uh Oh. The “Feds” knew there was a marijuana pipe in the box. I was freaking out.

Keep in mind this was 1977. Drug paraphernalia was as illegal as the drugs themselves. I was stressing out over picking up the package. I gathered up all my courage and went in.

As it turned out, there was a COD charge (I could’ve figured that out if I read the pick up notice.) Apparently the Protopipe price had increased since the 1975 release date of the comic book ad. I paid the extra three bucks and grabbed my treasure.

The Proto Pipe was even better than I imagined. I was so elated with my purchase, I immediately bought a dozen more. The Proto Pipe company set up their own distribution system by giving deep discounts on multiple purchases. I received my dozen and sold them out in a day. I sold so many Proto Pipes that year, it seemed everybody had one. I was also the source for spare parts as most stoners lost the poker within a week.

I had 2 Proto Pipes for nearly 40 years, using one almost daily and the other put away as a spare. In 2014, I had one taken from me after a friend went through a stop sign without stopping. The police pulled us over, my friend was arrested for an outstanding warrant and I lost my beloved Protopipe. I also received a $100 fine for possession. One of the police officers was training another. He picked up the Proto and described it to the younger officer as a “one hitter”. I scoffed inwardly. My Proto Pipe was nearly twice the age of that policeman. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and not correct the officer.

Today, a genuine Proto Pipe can only be found on eBay or other “collector” sites. You will pay well over $100 for an original. There are a couple of copies out there but nothing will replace the Proto Pipe manufactured in Willits, California.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Posted May 12, 2017 by admin in category "Gear", "Looking Back


  1. By Gary on

    Jesus! You’ve produced a classic “stash-site” all on your own! Pretty good! Hey, here’s the situation: Fumbling around, web surfin’, I found myself searching what happened to the legendary PROTO PIPE. Current updates, right? WOW!! I never suspected (in my wildest dreams)that this nutty little “utensil” had become so rare. As it turns out…I possess one of the more extensive collections concerning this pipe. I possess one of the ORIGINAL pipes, from around 1971/72, bought on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, Calif. for about $8.00. It’s still intact. Along with two additional Proto’s I bought back in the 80’s. One with the leather heat shield, the other the final, updated model with a deeper bowl and cover. ALL ORIGINAL. I haven’t used them in years, having toasted my poor throat on them over many years use as a young guy. (I’m a former musician). I now use a simple (but highly effective) water bong. Anyway, Proto Pipe was originally called CONTRIVANCE PIPE (and I have the paperwork stating such). I have about eight or ten various flyer’s and instructions that came with these pipes (though, surprisingly, I don’t recognize the one you posted on your site). Not sure what I’ll do with all this. I’m contemplating a move back to Lake Tahoe, Calif., sometime in early 2019, and could sure use some extra cash. I’ll mull over this stuff I’ve got and consider how (and if)I want to sell any of it. Perhaps an online auction? Could be “quite the scene”, eh? Proto mania! The time’s they are a changin’. Hah! By the way, have you sparked up any Orange Cookie strain? Phew!! A true “head spinner”, indeed! I was fortunate to have bought some of the very finest Orange Cookie strain from none other than the Cannabiotix lab, which people have been raving about. So let me know what you think of all this, man. I’ll email you some photos of the items mentioned here for your careful consideration. Take care!

    1. By admin (Post author) on

      Thanks Gary… send those pics, there’s many Proto fans out there that would love to see them… Tim


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.