Bad news for all you Cheech and Chongs out there. Or is it?
Starting on July 1, all smoking apparatuses will be illegal in the state of Florida. The bill–which was passed almost unanimously, bans the use or sale of drug paraphernalia in Florida.
However, this does not mean that head shops across the state will be closing their doors. The bill was watered down before it passed Senate to prohibit stores from “knowingly and willingly” selling smoking devices that will be used for illegal drugs. Here is the catch–the retailer can offer the devices if they are going to be used for tobacco smoking. Previously, head shops were regulated so that 75% of their sales had to come from tobacco sales.
A fiscal analysis and economic impact statement of the bill claims that the bill will not appear to affect state or local government revenues.
First-time offenders of this new law could face a first degree misdemeanor(a year in jail or a $1,000 fine). Second-time offenders face harsher consequences, at a third-degree felony which could mean up to five years in jail or a $5,000 fine.
Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) the sponsor of the ‘bong ban’ bill hopes that this bill will make people drive to other states if they intend to buy the apparatuses for illegal drugs.
“If we can make people drive to Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina to get fireworks, they can drive to get these utensils of death,” Rouson told the Broward New Times.
Sen. Jeff Clemens(D-Lake Worth) one of the few Senators to vote against the ‘bong ban’ is the sponsor of Florida’s medical marijuana bill that has yet to see the floor. In a recent poll done by People United for Medical Marijuana, seven out of ten Americans support marijuana for medical use.