Bing, Bang, Boom goes your Bong
No, not really.
By now, you have likely heard the news about the Governor signing a bill banning your bong.
A lot is being said about the bill, but much of it is hyperbole or just plain wrong.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Pete, a mouth piece for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Representative Rouson believes paraphernalia of all types to be “utensils of death.” As a proud recovering addict, we can expect more of the same as long as he holds office.
The House bill, HB 49 took a long time to get a sponsor in the Senate (SB1140) but once filed, the bill took wings. Throughout the process, only the Florida Cannabis Action Network and our partner, Bob Platshorn of the Silver Tour spoke against the bill. Lots of folks were talking about the bill though. On April 13, 2013 even Steve Colbert got in on the conversation about banning bongs in Florida.
With only a handful of Senators and Representatives voting against the bill, it passed with different versions in the House and Senate. Last minute conferencing between the Chambers gave us the bill signed into law by Governor Scott on June 5.
Here is what the final analysis by the state says, “Section 893.147, F.S establishes the following five paraphernalia crimes: Use or possession of Paraphernalia; manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia; delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor; transportation of drug paraphernalia; and advertisement of drug paraphernalia.
The bill amends s. 893.147, F.S., to make it a first degree misdemeanor for a person to knowingly and willfully sell or offer for sale at retail any of the drug paraphernalia listed in s. 893.145(12)(a)-(c) and (g)-(m), F.S., and a second or subsequent violation a third degree felony. The drug paraphernalia included are: Metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes, with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; chamber pipes; carburetor pipes ;electric pipes; air-driven pipes; chillums; bongs; ice pipes or chillers. The bill provides an exception for pipes that are primarily made of briar, meerschaum, clay, or corn cob.”
You can read the final analysis of the bill yourself here.
So, no, the government of Florida is not coming to take your bong away. If you are possessing a bong (or any other form of smoking device – yes, an apple could be paraphernalia) for any purpose other than smoking tobacco, that bong or pipe was already illegal.
If the analysis you read says this bill passed, but nothing much changes, that is likely right. Smoke shops won’t likely be closing their doors, selling pipes at a drastic discount or even changing their inventory. After all, smoke shops only sell to customers who use their wares for lawful purposes!
In all the years the Florida Cannabis Action Network has fought for the rights of cannabis consumers, the health and well-being of patients and the protection of our right to speak and assemble, only a handful of Florida smoke shops have ever given a donation, publicly or anonymously to reforming cannabis laws.
Smoke shop owners sit back and reap the rewards while over 38,000 Florida adult cannabis consumers over the age of 21 are arrested each year for possession of under 20 grams of cannabis.
Lawmakers have managed to gag smoke shop owners at the peril of patients. Our friend, we’ll call him P to preserve his identity, spent a long time trying to find a safe supply of cannabis for his wife with MS. She (we’ll call her K) was diagnosed years earlier but had found herself wheel-chair bound for three-years. While P was able to access medical grade cannabis, finding the right delivery method for K was a nightmare.
P had to learn to roll cannabis for his wife, but the smoke was hard on her throat and the heat from the burning cigarette was uncomfortable. It seemed like a good idea to visit the local smoke shop for a better delivery device. How was P to know that you can’t even use the word cannabis in a smoke shop? He is a 60-plus year old republican looking for comfort for his sick wife and he is turned away by people who know the best products to assist P in finding a device that helps K. This family is willing to risk breaking the law to bring relief from muscle spasms, depression, and pain to K.
At Florida Cannabis Action Network, we want you to be aware of the facts about cannabis, the harms of prohibition and have a front row seat for the creation of sensible cannabis policies in Florida that allow safe, legal access to cannabis. If you can help by sending this message to a friend so they know the truth about the bong bill that would be great.
Here are a few other things you can do to get involved.
- Send a letter to the editor about the bong bill, the need for medical cannabis or another cannabis related topic. Here are important things for you to know about getting published from an expert! You can follow the letters that are getting published on the front page of our website. www.FLCAN.org
- Schedule a meeting with your local representative’s office. Over 70 % of Floridians support legal access to cannabis for patients. Whether you are talking to your city official, county commissioner or state Representative, seven out of ten people will agree with you on some level. Here are several hand outs you can print at home and take with you to the meeting.
- Tell a friend- Florida CAN makes it easy for you to tell your friends about our hard work. Your friends – like-minded supporters of liberty, compassionate liberals and fiscal conservatives alike all have a vested interest in the success of the Florida CAN.