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 feds seized my JeromeBaker.com website for Operation Pipe Dreams, which was a federal effort to bring to justice those of us who sold bongs and pipes across state lines. That was in 2003. There weren’t a lot of website seizures. The internet didn’t really start until 1996. There wasn’t a lot of regulation in the beginning. Porn was big on the internet. And then the buying and selling of drug paraphernalia spread.
During Operation Pipe Dreams, when 55 of us were arrested, including Tommy Chong, they seized my website. An American flag animated by Quicktime was placed on my website. It was a pixelated graphic, and they made it look like it was flying in the wind. It read, “This website is the property of the United States Department of Justice.”
It was the new equivalent of grabbing my car or my boat. Instead, they seized my website. I bought it back from someone for $700. It’s like recovering an old car that has been seized by the police. I feel incredibly lucky to be operating from the home domain.
Attorney General John Ashcroft declared at the time: “With the advent of the internet, the drug paraphernalia industry has exploded. The drug paraphernalia business is now accessible from home by anyone with a computer and internet access. And in American homes, we know that children and young adults are the fastest growing Internet users. Quite simply, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge…Today the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force…took action instrumental in dismantling the illegal drug paraphernalia industry by attacking their physical, financial and internet properties. infrastructure”.
This experience led me to take an interest in bitcoin very early on. 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 without getting banned. Ask anyone in the cannabis industry: you constantly deal with account shutdowns, app shutdowns, etc. I know those in the bitcoin industry are going through the same thing. Bitcoin also appealed to me, as I appreciate its “grey area” quality.
Being able to be part of the original Silk Road, being able to attract people who wanted to buy things online without being noticed, all goes hand in hand with what I do: making bongs. I had a feeling that the price of bitcoin was going to explode, so I promoted it as much as possible as a payment method on JeromeBaker.com.
I no longer blow glass, except for a particular use. For a while, one of those particular lenses was for customers who paid in bitcoin. I would blow them a Slyme Bubbler for a bitcoin. They would send bitcoins to the Jerome Baker Designs public bitcoin address and email a delivery address. I still remember my last bitcoin purchase for a custom coin. The price was $700.
I don’t see the same viability for other cryptocurrencies that I do with bitcoin. I accept bitcoins in my business. You can buy products with Bitcoin. Tesla accepted bitcoin for a while, and I’m sure it will again. Ethereum and other altcoins are more a matter of speculation. Bitcoin has volume and speed, and it has value.
To me, bitcoin is the ability to be a mover and a shaker, and allows anyone to hold a separate account with value and not have to worry about it being shut down. Bitcoin is an excellent currency for all markets, as we have seen. It not only lends itself well to high-risk industries, as had been much of its history, but also to nation states seeking to protect their own population from currency devaluation. Bitcoin is a biblical algorithm. He changed mankind forever.
This is a guest post by Jason Harris. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.