Miami, FL- Florida Gov. Rick Scott has made a number of decisions that don’t sit well with every voter in his state, and once again he has signed a bill that shows just out of touch he is with his constituents. Despite the fact that recent polls show that 70 percent of Floridians favor progressive marijuana legalization, Gov. Scott signed the bill that makes it illegal for smoke shops to sell glass bongs and pipes.
The bill, H.B. 49 is not an outright ban of pipes, it makes it “unlawful for a person to knowingly and willfully sell or offer for sale at retail any drug paraphernalia… other than a pipe that is primarily made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob.”
The key phrasing is “knowingly and willfully” which essentially means that shops that generate at least 75 percent of their revenue from tobaccos sales can sell pipes as long as the customer does not reference drug use. Knowingly selling pipes for drug use has criminal consequences; a first offense is a misdemeanor and any additional offenses are classified as third degree felonies, the Huffington Post reported.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), a former drug addict who has launched a personal crusade against drugs and drug users.
“Everybody accepts that the retailer knows what’s really being smoked out of bongs, water pipes, hash pipes and crack pipes, and it’s not tobacco,” Rousson said, according to ABC News. “We may not be able to eradicate drug usage but we can certainly make it less convenient than walking across the street to a minimart, gas station or head shop.”
“Rather than just regulating them, let’s just ban them,” Darryl Rouson who sponsored the bill. “If we can make people drive to Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina to get fireworks, they can drive to get these utensils of death.”
As the nation moves closer to decriminalization of pot, Florida just took a step back. At least 18 states have approved marijuana for medical use and two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
Most Americans are weary of the ineffectual and costly War on Drugs which has sent too many young men—mostly African-American—to jail for many years over relatively minor offenses. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center showed that 52 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana, an 11 percent uptick from a similar poll in 2011, which demonstrates that support for progressive marijuana laws is likely to grow over the next few years.
One of the most inhibiting factors to nationwide legalization of marijuana aside from misconceptions about the dangers of this relatively innocuous substance is the issue of intoxicated driving. Thus far, there is no field test available to law enforcement which can help them determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Experts also disagree on how much THC a person must have in their system to impair their driving skills.
If some genius could develop a marijuana field sobriety test and researchers can come to a consensus about how high is too high to drive lawmakers might be convinced to end the ridiculous prohibition on pot.
Currently, Colorado and Washington are the testing grounds for legalized marijuana use and are developing marijuana DUI standards along with establishing precedents which could usher in national decriminalization, at least that’s what potheads are hoping for.