This week, the news out of the state legislature was the slam-dunk success of the bong ban. If the Senate pushes through the legislation as well, it means you'll have to truck over the state line to arm up on smoking supplies. For smoke shop owners, it's a possible kill-shot. Despite blah logic of legislating against tools instead of the actual drug trade, the bill sailed through 112-3.
It turns out West Palm Beach's Matt Pafford was one of the members standing in the lonely common-sense minority.
New Times caught up with the legislator by phone Thursday as he was taking a break from the house floor. He explained that the bong ban failed to connect with the actual problem - it's more a brightly colored band-aid than a solution.
"I think it's one of these bills that doesn't mean very much, if you're looking at fixing a problem, which is drug use," Pafford told us. "What are we going to do, ban Bic lighters next? If we are going to assume that it's an issue, we have to apply resources to get people the help they need."
For Pafford, recovery programs are key to tackling the core problem of substance abuse.
"I'm from Miami myself, and I've known over the years people, friends and acquaintances, who died of abuse. I know it's not [paraphernalia] that's killing them," he said. "What are we really doing? Taking paraphernalia away isn't dealing with somebody issue."
Pafford was the only Democrat to vote against the legislation. The two Republicans giving the thumbs down - Halsey Beshears and John Tobia - sound like their motivation was more about keeping Big Brother's hands off of business owners.
But Pafford's vote was particularly ballsy. Darryl Rouson, the legislator who cooked up the bill, is the leader of the house Democrats. Pafford says this isn't the first time he's chosen principle over party.
"For me, there's an issue of how you're going to spend your time as a legislator," Pafford said.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.