Florida's Bong Ban Changes Nothing for Head Shops

Did you hear, bro? Gov. Rick Scott is such a buzzkill. He just signed a law that makes it illegal for smoke shops to sell just about every pipe, bro! Glass, wooden, acrylic, stone, metal, with or without screens, with carburetors too! We're gonna have to stock up on apples and empty Coca-Cola cans, bro!

Um, actually no. Seriously, Florida stoners can chill. Take a hit. Unwind. The pipe ban bill that Gov. Rick Scott recently signed has no teeth. So don't expect to see a blowout sale on all smoking devices at your local smoke shops so that they can get rid of all their inventory by July 1, when the law goes into effect. Thanks to the Florida Smoke Shop Association, it's business as usual.

"It doesn't change a thing in the way we do business," says Jay Work, owner of Grateful J's, with four smoke shop locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Work, along with the owners of 75 stores around the state, joined forces to effectively neuter the pipe ban bill, which had been championed by state Rep. Darryl Rouson (St. Petersburg), who believes getting rid of pipes will stop potheads from smoking their cheeba.

Work says the Florida Smoke Shop Association raised more than $100,000 and hired a lobbyist to make sure their livelihood wasn't destroyed. "If you don't like the way the people who get elected are governing, then you have to get involved," Work says. "We beat them at their own game. Unfortunately, to play their game, you need to raise money."

The law Scott signed says a person has to "knowingly and intentionally" sell a pipe for illegal drug use to get arrested for a criminal misdemeanor. A second offense would lead to a third-degree felony. That means a smoke shop owner or employee has to know without a doubt that you intend to buy a pipe for drug use. They can still sell pipes for tobacco purposes only.

"If you come in referencing illegal substances, then we wouldn't sell it to you," says John, an employee of Headquarters Tobacco & Gift Shop in Hialeah. "But that's how we have always operated."

Indeed, the shop has a sign warning customers that any reference to illegal substances will get them kicked out. The same goes for Midtown Smokeshop at 3503 NE Second Ave.

"As a smoke shop, I only sell products for tobacco purposes," says Victor, the owner. "I'm going to kick you out if you reference drugs."

 
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