Under the New Bong Ban
Florida is now under a “bong ban”. St. Petersburg representative, Darryl Rouson, first introduced this movement to Florida legislation. He is a former drug addict that feels that if the state takes away the selling of bongs and glass pipes, drug users will not have a way to use their drugs. Republican Governor Rick Scott signed off on this movement, giving it his seal of approval.
Seventy six owners of Florida smoke shops have formed a coalition to repel the ban set by the legislation. The Florida Smoke Shop Association has raised over $100,000 dollars for their cause. The money raised has gone towards hiring a lobbyist and other expenses that will help their cause. They feel as though they have to go head to head with their government to protect their livelihood. The shops are the means that owners and employees make ends meet – to take away their source of income is illogical and unethical to them.
The owners of smoke shops argue that nothing will change. To be arrested, the owner has to know that they are selling their products for the use of illegal drugs. The smoke shop owners all seem to agree and stand firm that they are selling the products in their stores for tobacco purposes only. Though there may not be many people that come in the stores and advertise that they are using the shop’s products for any particular substance, the fact is that they can’t prove it is for anything specifically illegal.
The felony charges that come with the illegal sale of pipes and bongs will surely end up increasing the already staggering prison population. The smoke shop owners are not giving up this fight. Jay Work, owner of Grateful J’s, has been quoted stating, “If you don’t like the way the people who get elected are governing, then you have to get involved. We beat them at their own game. Unfortunately to play their game, you need to raise money.” How this pans out is anyone’s guess, but there is a fact present: it is an attack on personal freedoms to presume an individual will assuredly use something legal for illegal purposes.