Today, the much ballyhooed Florida ban on smoking devices goes into effect. The legislation -- the brainchild of ardent antidrug Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg -- has been drumming up a lot of controversy since it was introduced at the start of the session. The original provision basically wanted to swing a magic wand over all bongs and pipes and -- WHAM! -- they'd be illegal in Florida. But thanks to some surprisingly effective and organized pushback from head-shop owners, the actual law going into effect is much different. Here's what you need to know.
See Also: - Florida Senate Bill Wants to Ban Bongs and Glass Pieces - Bong Ban Passes Through House Subcommittee, Moves Through Legislature - Ten Homemade Smoking Options if the State Bans Bongs and Glass Pieces
5. "Ban" is a bit of an overstatement. We here in the fourth estate have been plastering the phrase "bong ban" everywhere since the legislation was first kicked around at the beginning of the year. And although the bill originally would have made it illegal to purchase smoking devices inside the state lines, the work the governor signed off on was significantly watered down. How watered down? "Basically, what it means is business as usual," says Jay Work, owner of the four South Florida Grateful J locations.
4. A bong by another name is still as sweet. Really, all the legislation does is make it illegal for head-shop owners and employees to sell you smoking devices "knowingly and intentionally" for the consumption of illegal drugs. This was pretty much already the federal law in place, so... yeah. If you go inside a shop asking for the right water bong for this new ounce of blueberry kush, it's a no-go.
3. Head-shop owners of the world, unite! To combat the legislation, Work helped organized more than 70 head-shop owners and independent glass artisans around the state to push back against bill. The result -- the Florida Smoke Shop Association -- is now a finely calibrated organization, with its own lawyer and lobbyist on tap to fight for the industry's rights.
2. $$$$$. You need to put down that bowl if you think this legislation was beaten by anything other than cold hard cash. Work and his association spent a reported $100,000 to fight the bill.
1. This fight ain't over yet. Even after the association was able to block this latest bill, Work says his group isn't walking away from its battle stations. Rouson, Work says, will probably try this again. And the head-shop owners are ready for round two.
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