North Lake student news since 1977




Texas’ first smoke shop

A look inside The Zebra Head
Theressa Velazquez
Various of products sold for hemp and medical cannabis users.

The Birmingham Balloon Company was the first smoke shop in Texas and the third in the nation. It opened its doors in Denton in 1966. This establishment is referred to as a head shop, as it was one of the first locations in the U.S. to sell papers and pipes during the counterculture era.

Today, The Zebra’s Head smoke shop continues to thrive at the same location as the Birmingham Balloon Co., which has an old customer base. The owner, Travis Sample, refers to them as “time travelers.”

The Zebra Head’s building has been standing strong for over 60 years. (Theressa Velazquez)

“They walk in and their chins turn up and down,” Sample said. “Then they shout, ‘I can’t believe this place is still open.’” They then proceed to talk about all the crazy memories made over a decade ago when they used to frequently visit the shop.

The Birmingham Balloon Co. eventually became known as Texas Original Head Shop in the early ‘70s. It changed names again when it was painted with its iconic black and white stripes in 1978. Zebra Imports then transformed into The Zebra’s Head in 1994 when Sample took over the business.

“People come for a period of years, leave, then come back and feel the same spirit,” Sample said. “We’ve kept the spirit alive for generations.”

The Zebra’s Head has continued the legacy for 30 years, serving the diverse and progressive community that is less than a mile away from the University of North Texas.

Sample said he is proud to carry on the legacy after buying Zebra Imports from its previous owner and friend who has now passed away.

Since then, a lot has changed. Today, Texas laws that have allowed the head shop to sell a variety of hemp products, including CBD flower, which can be purchased for medical use without a medical card, and THCa flower, which can be purchased for recreational use.

In botanical terms, hemp is distinguished by its tall, sturdy stalks and sparse foliage. Under the 2018 Farm Bill hemp is legal in Texas and is defined as a cannabis sativa plant with less than .3% THC per weight. Anything more than that is defined as marijuana.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing a proposal by Attorney General Merrick Garland to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug. If approved, this change would enable researchers to conduct large-scale clinical trials to gather comprehensive data on the medical benefits of marijuana.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Theressa Velazquez, Editor-in-Chief

Comments (0)

All News-Register Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

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