Jason Harris is a world-class American glass artist and founder of Jerome Baker Designs, a leading functional glass company founded in 2003 and based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The FBI seized my JeromeBaker.com website during Operation Pipe Dreams, which was a federal effort to bring to justice those of us who sold bongs and pipes across state lines. It was 2003. There weren’t many website seizures. The internet didn’t really start in earnest until 1996. At first there weren’t many regulations out there. Porn was big on the internet. And then the buying and selling of drug paraphernalia took hold.
During Operation Pipe Dreams, when 55 of us were arrested, including Tommy Chong, they confiscated my website. A Quicktime animated American flag was placed on my website. It was a pixelated graphic that looked like it was flying in the wind. It said, “This website is the property of the United States Department of Justice.”
It was the new equivalent of impounding my car or boat. Instead they confiscated my website. I bought it back from someone for $700. It’s like getting back an old car confiscated by the police. I feel incredibly blessed to be operating from the original domain.
Attorney General John Ashcroft stated at the time: “With the advent of the Internet, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has exploded. The drug paraphernalia store is now accessible to anyone with a computer and internet access at home. And in homes across America, we know that children and young adults are the fastest growing Internet users. Quite simply, the illicit drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge… Today, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force took decisive steps to stop the illicit drug paraphernalia industry by attacking their physical, financial and internet infrastructures.”
This experience got me interested in Bitcoin from an early age. I started taking bitcoin when it was probably around $600. It was attractive to me because I could do business with different parts of the world and not get banned. Ask anyone in the cannabis industry: they deal with account closures, app closures, etc. all the time. I know this is the case in the bitcoin industry. Bitcoin was also appealing to me because I enjoy the “grey area” quality of it.
Being able to be part of the original Silk Road, being able to appeal to people who wanted to buy things online without being noticed, it all goes hand in hand with what I do: making bongs. I had an inkling that bitcoin price was going to explode, so I promoted it as a payment method on JeromeBaker.com as much as possible.
I no longer blow glass unless for a special purpose. For a time, one such special purpose was for customers paying with bitcoin. I would blow them a Slyme bubbler for a bitcoin. They would send bitcoin to the Jerome Baker Designs public bitcoin address and email a delivery address. I still remember my last bitcoin purchase for a custom piece. The price was $700.
I don’t see the same profitability for other cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin. I accept bitcoin in my shop. You can buy products with bitcoin. Tesla accepted bitcoin for a while and I’m sure they will again. Ethereum and other altcoins are more about speculation. Bitcoin has volume and speed, and it retains its value.
To me, Bitcoin is the ability to be a mover and shaker, empowering anyone to hold a separate account of value without worrying about it being shut down. As we have seen, Bitcoin is a great currency for all markets. Not only does it lend itself well to high-risk industries, as has been the case for much of its history, but also to nation-states looking to protect their own people from currency devaluation. Bitcoin is a biblical algorithm. It changed humanity forever.
This is a guest post by Jason Harris. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.