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Drug paraphernalia law goes into effect next week

On July 1, a ban on the sale of some drug paraphernalia, signed recently by Governor Rick Perry, goes into effect in Florida. At first glance, it would seem as if this ban would result in most “head shops” being guilty of a drug crime. Upon closer inspection, however, the law is likely to have little effect.

The new legislation specifically makes it a crime for someone to “knowingly and intentionally” sell paraphernalia that is to be used for smoking marijuana. A first offense is a criminal misdemeanor and a second offense is treated as a third degree felony. The law, which was introduced by Representative Darryl Rouson, is intended to curb the use of marijuana in the state.

The law has a significant hole: in order for the sale of a glass pipe or “bong” to be a crime, the person selling it has to know that the purchaser is going to use it to smoke marijuana. So long as shops and individuals sell these items as tobacco smoking devices, it simply is not a crime.

Overall, the new law is likely to have little effect at all among Florida smoke shops. According to the Florida Smoke Shop Association, which lobbied against the bill, smoke shops will generally refuse to sell their products to anyone who references drugs while in their stores. Many even have signs on premises stating this policy.

In the end, it is difficult to see this law as adding much, particularly given changing attitudes about the use of marijuana in many states, including Florida.

Source: Reason.com, “Florida just made it a crime to sell bongs, glass pipes, etc.,” Mike Riggs, June 18, 2013

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