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Etsy Updates Prohibited Items List, Banning Electronic Bongs, Human Remains, Poison

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A portable marijuana vaporizer. High-powered firecrackers. A vial of human urine.

If you are in the market for any of these things, don't look to homemade e-tailer Etsy, which has added all of them to its dreaded "Prohibited Items" list with a recent update to its selling policy. In a blog post on Thursday, Etsy detailed the different classes of products it would no longer allow its merchants to hawk. Those now-banned categories of products are, in full:

- "Tobacco and other smokeable products," including "herbal smoking blends, tobacco-alternatives, and other products that one might commonly smoke in a pipe or cigarette form." (No word on what, oh what, this last bit refers to.)
- "Human remains or body parts (excluding hair and teeth)." No more human skulls, bones, skeletons, or shrunken heads, but you can still buy all the hair and teeth you want on Etsy.
- "Hazardous materials," which would include mercury thermometers, fireworks, lighter fluid, and any other product that contained "flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, etc." elements.
- "Motor vehicles," namely anything that might entail a change of title in order to complete a transaction. Etsy is not AutoTrader.com, but you can still buy a bicycle, tricycle, or, one assumes, unicycle.
- "Drugs, medical drug claims about an item, drug paraphernalia": Sellers can no longer make claims that a substance will cure a medical illness or condition. Drug paraphernalia, which includes" pipes with carburetors, water pipes, bubblers, oil domes, hash skillets, vaporizers, and ash catchers" have all been banned; pipes, bongs, pieces, and bowls that do not have carburetors are still available, as long as they are being sold as tobacco products. Because nothing says "I'm smoking tobacco" like a water pipe with a slot to hold your chocolate chip cookies.

The new policies have caused a minor uproar in the Etsy forums, where fretting Etsy storefront operators are venting and questioning the wisdom of the changes. Much of the debate surrounded the "medical drug claims about an item" provision: Could a seller, for example, "list the mystical or folklore properties" of stones? Or could one use a buyer's testimony that a cream had indeed helped with a skin condition on his or her Etsy page? (In both cases: No. No more claims concerning the remedy powers of Etsy products).

Others, meanwhile, took solace in Etsy's lax enforcement of existing prohibitions, noting that even though weapons are not allowed, plenty of hunting knives were still available on the site, apparently slipping through on a loophole; too, if re-sellers and trademark infringers were able to survive on Etsy, perhaps human skull retailers would, too. Others on the forum were relieved to hear that, though they can no longer claim their wares have medical or healing benefits on Etsy, they may still link to their personal sites from Etsy, where they can make any claims they want about their products.

So, perhaps you will still be able to buy that electrified, dynamite-filled femur bone bong you've had your eye on all these months. Where there's a will, there's a way.

You can read the blog post announcing Etsy's rule changes here, and you can see the full list of banned and prohibited items here. Confused sellers are encouraged to contact Etsy with specific questions here.

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