It will soon be a little harder to get high on illegal drugs in Florida. A new bill signed by Governor Rick Scott makes it illegal for retail stores to knowingly sell drug paraphernalia like glass pipes and bongs.
This is where the law gets tricky. Glass pipes and bongs won’t come off shelves. Instead law enforcement must prove both “intent and design” by the store to sell a pipe as a drug device.
“I don’t think we want our kids finding ingredients they need to get high at a convenience store” said Deborah Comella of the Coalition for a Drug Free SWFL.
Paul Ozturk has sold glass pipes and bongs at his Marathon gas station on US-41 for years. He says new attempts by lawmakers to ban the novelty items will force him to tweak his selling method.
“We intentionally sell it for tobacco use and then whatever they use it for we cannot control,” he said.
Federal law prohibits the sale of drug paraphernalia, but Florida had no such state law stopping the retail sale of the devices.
State representative Darryl Rouson wrote the bill. He says he started with a stronger version, but the passed version was watered down.
“They all know what’s being smoked in these pipes, the only people who don’t know are the retailers” Rouson said.
Rouson says he will continue his work to get pipes and bongs off the shelves in Florida for good.
“I want to continue to challenge law makers to be smart on our penalties, smart on our drug policies,” he said.
Violators face misdemeanor charges when the law goes into effect on July 1. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there have been almost 19,000 drug paraphernalia related arrests this year.