Where Dreams Are Made

Jason Harris founded Jerome Baker Designs Inc. (JBD) in Eugene, Oregon, in 1991. As a dyed-in-the-wool deadhead with THC pumping through his veins, he chose Jerry Garcia’s first name, Jerome, and a last name, Baker, to denote “baked” as his pseudonym, fearing repercussions from cops.

Through the years, he elevated the form of functional glass art, incorporating innovations along the way, such as fuming glass with fine silver to create a mirror effect and manipulating blown glass into complex art. The JBD seal became a symbol of quality. But, despite his efforts to stay off the radar of police, he caught the attention of the federal government.

“I was arrested for manufacturing drug paraphernalia in 2003,” Harris says, referring to Operation Pipe Dreams, a George W. Bush administration-era DEA hunt that also involved Tommy Chong and 54 other defendants.

High Times Magazine, March 2024

Pipe sellers who never touched the plant initially faced drug paraphernalia trafficking charges, and the feds pinned most of it on Chong. Scarred from that trauma, Harris laid low, first moving from Oregon to Maui, Hawaii, to make non-functional glass art for a while, and later New York.

“I kind of went underground for a while, and we were based in New York on Long Island,” he says. “We had a warehouse out there that we functioned out of—a small, nickel-and-dime business. When recreational cannabis happens, we sort of come out of the closet. And when I saw the money and energy and everything going on in the Las Vegas market, I called that home base.”

After seeing Colorado and Washington approve adult-use pot and learning that recreational cannabis legalization was possible, Harris gained confidence and re-launched Jerome Baker Designs in 2012, re-focusing on high-end art. Jerome Baker established the Las Vegas Dream Factory at its headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

The lounge area in the gallery at the Las Vegas Dream Factory.Photo by Dabsel Adams

Located downtown in the Arts District, a few blocks from Fremont Street, the Dream Factory is a place where people can truly appreciate the sheer amount of hours it takes an artist to make a piece. After all, JBD was behind achievements like “Bongzilla,” the world’s largest bong in 2018, and is the brand responsible for custom bongs made for celebrities such as George Clooney, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Mike Tyson, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, B-Real, Xzibit, 311, Slightly Stoopid, Sublime, Tool, Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Shavo Odadjian (System of a Down), People Under The Stairs, and Limp Bizkit.

Las Vegas is a prime place to attract people from all parts of the world, so Harris’s Dream Factory adapts to these specific needs.

“We get people that come in on pilgrimages from different places on the West Coast, and some are driving very far,” Harris says. “And they come for birthdays, weddings, different stuff like that. We’ve done a number of weddings in our facility, a number of birthdays, parties for some brands, they’ve been taken to the factory, and we get a percent of our clients coming in who are tourists.”

Teamwork makes the dream work, and Operations Manager Jennifer Krause is a big factor in the success of the Dream Factory.

“I basically handle everything from A-Z—you name it—accounts payable, accounts receivable, shipping, and [the operations] of the Dream Factory every day,” says Krause.

Krause says that the Dream Factory is currently showcasing glass art by Omar Rosales, Dina Kalahar, aka “Sol Fire Glass,” Donnie Alves, aka “Mente 45K,” and Allan Clement, aka “Cowboy.”

“And let’s not forget Jason Harris, known as Jerome Baker!” Krause laughs. “Within the last five years, it’s just completely blown up, and it’s pretty much one of the most prominent locations that people would want to visit. It’s where the artist all-stars are at. We’re right in the heart of the arts district.”

Krause explains how many people wander in, thinking it’s a basic smoke shop selling papers and cheap pipes, but what they’re offering is high-quality art that fetches top dollar. It’s a surprise “to the commoner wanting to walk away with a piece, and then they find out what we’re offering and what we’re shipping around the country,” Krause says.

Jason Harris (right), his business partner Jordan Schefter (left) and Tommy Chong (center) at the CHAMPS 2021 trade show.Photo by Dabsel Adams

Both the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas have slowly rolled out consumption lounge regulations, though it’s taken years to materialize. NuWu’s Tasting Room opened in 2019, then rebranded as Sky High Lounge, opening in July 2023, and the city’s first non-tribal consumption lounges are scheduled to open by early 2024. (NuWu could open earlier because the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, a sovereign jurisdiction, owns its land.)

Many cannabis consumption lounges, such as ones in California, let patrons rent bongs or pipes to consume weed. A big factor is that tourists—not locals who can smoke at home cheaper—are going to them as smoking stealthily in a hotel gets tiring. Harris says consumption lounges are key to the full experience of legal weed.

“I think that’s absolutely essential,” Harris says. “People have different ways to smoke and consume cannabis. So, by being able to get everyone to have experience and make a lasting memory. I mean, look, when we were kids, we went to Amsterdam, leaving certain memories of certain coffeeshops in my life. Being able to rent the bongs and clean the bongs with a proper scrub, that was fun and part of the ritual.”

Harris explains how bongs slowly came out of the closet through the years, including how Vegas events have changed.

“We’ve been going to Las Vegas for so many years. It’s got so many trade shows. We were at the first CHAMPS trade show ever. And we bought the most booths—eight—and mostly we closed them all in so nobody could see our stuff inside,” Harris says, explaining how much things have changed since 1999. “Lo and behold, CHAMPS is this mega show everybody wants to attend.”

Krause explained that MJBizCon is even bigger than CHAMPS, and Las Vegas gets pretty busy and wild during those times.

A collaboration between glass artists Christopher Campbell and Omar Rosales. Photo by Fred Morledge, @dabseladams

Harris is the protégé of legendary glass artist Bob Snodgrass and apprenticed for Hans-Joachim Ittig of Wertheimer Glaskunst, a seventh-generation glassblower based in Wertheim, Germany. He also learned or apprenticed under Cesare Toffolo, Dick Marquis, Robert Mickelson, Karen Willinbrink, and Charles Lowrie.

“I’ve always respected artists that have come before me and paved the way in what I consider now a Pop Art genre,” Harris says. “That’s something that I’ve always dreamt about, being in art school. I’m a graduate of the University of Oregon. I’ve always been interested in art, art history, and what goes on in that space. And I feel honored and privileged to be a part of it now through the bongs. I never really thought that I could get there.”

The Dream Factory is an excellent stop in Las Vegas that holds a lot of history for glass art.

“Cannabis has unfolded recreationally and become more and more mainstream,” says Harris. “And it’s allowed us to sell expensive pieces, which gives us time to put into the artwork. All that is kind of a good, perfect storm. The Dream Factory itself, in terms of visiting tourists, is a great destination right near Fremont Street.”

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of High Times Magazine.

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