Florida's MMJ Initiative Could Send Bong Ban Up In Smoke

Florida's MMJ Initiative Could Send Bong Ban Up In Smoke

By Shawn Dwyer 08/25/14

Amendment 2 could potentially water down a series of Florida laws designed to stop the sale of drug paraphernalia.

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With support for Florida's Amendment 2 at an all time high, legalization advocates are anticipating the numerous changes that will occur once the law is in place. One of those could be the elimination of the state's so-called bong ban, which currently prohibits the sale of pipes and other devices used to smoke marijuana.

As it stands, Florida has outlawed various drug paraphernalia that includes "metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic pipes." But according to Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative contains language that says the "medical use" of marijuana includes "related supplies."

Jon Mills, one of the drafters of the amendment's language and a former University of Florida Levin College of Law dean, said that he expects the legislature to go back and define which devices would be considered legal paraphernalia and what would not. “But certainly, if you were arrested for having drug paraphernalia and were using marijuana medically, you'd make the argument your device was included,” Mills said.

A review process by the legislature would take some doing, since the state has taken great care to outlaw a wide range of devices that could potentially be used to consume drugs. Among the items banned for smoking weed are bongs—the sale of which is a first-degree misdemeanor—as well as "anything made from 'briar, meerschaum, clay, or corn cob.'" Even balloons and duct tape are illegal if used for doing drugs.

But state Rep. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, said that Amendment 2 could potentially eliminate such bans if the items are used for medical purposes. “If legitimate medical users choose to use a banned device as a delivery system, then, yes, the amendment allows it,” he said.