Opinion: Law against bongs is misguided

Taylor Leckie

Bongs are one of the most popular smoking apparatuses, but now if a person is caught selling a bong, they may be charged with a third degree felony.
Bongs are one of the most popular smoking apparatuses, but now if a person is caught selling a bong they may be charged with a third degree felony.

Since July 1st in Florida, smoking devices such as pipes and bongs have been deemed illegal. Not only are these devices illegal, but those found selling these items can be charged with a third-degree felony — the same charge as murder. If a person is caught owning one, even if it isn’t used for illegal substances, thanks to this new bill, they could be thrown into the prison system and have their right to vote stripped from them. That’s correct — simply owning a bong could land someone in prison alongside people who are actually a danger to society, including rapists, murderers, kidnappers and robbers. The governing bodies of Florida want to appear as if they’re cracking down on crime, but they are only creating more crime and debt in making these laws.

This bill passed unanimously without issue, despite having any evidence that it will do more good than harm. Darryl Rouson, a State Representative behind the ban, calls bongs “utensils of death.” This claim is unfounded. On drugwarfacts.org an annual analysis on causes of death shows 24,518 alcohol-induced deaths, 22,134 pharmaceutical drug related deaths and zero deaths caused by marijuana. By banning these “utensils of death”, they are forcing people to use methods of smoking that are harmful. If you can’t get a pipe, why not use a rigged soda can? It will still allow people to smoke, just in a way that is more unhealthy for you than the devices they’ve banned, which are specifically designed to limit potentially harmful chemicals and effects that would otherwise arise from smoking out of makeshift apparatuses.

Whether used for illegal substances or not, bongs are one of the healthier methods of smoking.
Whether used for illegal substances or not, bongs are one of the healthier methods of smoking.

Florida needs to take steps forward and not fall behind the social progress being achieved by the rest of the country.

The ill-informed passing of this bong ban looks even more absurd when juxtaposed to the the bill currently trying to legalize the use of medical marijuana, which has a significant amount of research to validate its merits. Medical marijuana can successfully treat a wide variety of ailments including eating disorders, insomnia, chronic pain and can benefit the user’s lungs by promoting the drainage of mucus. Even though 70 percent of  Floridians support legalizing medical marijuana, this bill has remained stalled and unheard in the state capital. While other states are moving forward by regulating and legalizing marijuana, Florida’s governance is crippling its ability to be relevant in the face of social change.

Take the success of Colorado’s recent legalization methods for example. The tax generated by the regulation of marijuana will be about $13 million with the first $40 million raised dedicated to school construction. State officials say the cost to enforce the regulations will cost $30 million leaving more than $60 million in tax yields left over.