A Florida law outlawing the sale of marijuana paraphernalia, such as bongs and water pipes, is now even more worthless since the state’s voters approved an initiative legalizing medical marijuana.
According to a report from Florida Politics, the passing of United for Care’s Amendment 2 in the November election has blocked a statewide bong ban, a law which was established in 2013 in an attempt to prohibit the sale or use of “metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic” smoking devices commonly used to consume marijuana.
It seems the language of Amendment 2 gives medical marijuana treatment centers the freedom to sell and distribute “related supplies” to those patients qualifying for participation in the program.
“The plain language of the amendment covers ‘related supplies’ and was written that way precisely because of poorly conceived pieces of public policy such as the law in question,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for Care.
Although the bong ban was designed to make it a first-degree misdemeanor “to knowingly and willfully sell drug paraphernalia,” its language is vague, which has made it difficult to enforce. An analysis of the bill (House Bill 49) provided by the Florida House of Representatives clearly states that items that could be considered drug paraphernalia “are not illegal to possess unless they are used, intended for use, or designed for the use of a specified manner.”
Therefore, as long as a smoking device is sold “for tobacco use only,” there is nothing stopping retailers from selling these products—and they haven’t stopped since the law took effect.
State Senator Darryl Rouson, the primary Democrat behind the bong ban bill, admitted a long time ago that United for Care’s Amendment 2 would essentially squash the law when it comes to the medical marijuana community.
“If devices that best administer medical marijuana are on the list” of banned paraphernalia, “then on the face of it, it sounds like you’d have a pretty good argument you weren’t breaking the law,” he said during an interview with the Tampa Tribune back in 2014.
Florida’s new medical marijuana law is set to take effect on January 3, 2017. However, it could be awhile before patients reap any of the benefits. The Florida Department of Health has not even started to draft the rules for those businesses looking to get into the medical marijuana game.
Medical marijuana identification cards could be issued by October 2017.
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