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Governor Signs New Paraphernalia Law

Earlier this month, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a new ban on the sale of drug paraphernalia in Florida. Anyone or any shop that is found to be violating the ban could find themselves facing drug charges. The law, which was opposed vigorously by the Florida Smoke Shop Association, goes into effect July 1.

Specifically, the new law makes it illegal for individuals or shops to "knowingly and willfully sell" or to make available for sale drug paraphernalia at retail. The law will, of course, have the greatest effect on "head shops," where glass pipes and other items are sold. The law allows these shops to continue to operate, provided that they receive at least 75 percent of their business from the sale of tobacco products.

Authorities will charge those selling paraphernalia with a first-degree misdemeanor for their first offense. All subsequent offenses will be third-degree felonies, a conviction for which would cost a person his right to vote in Florida.

Experts believe that this law will be difficult to enforce because it bans only the knowing and willful sale of an item for use as drug paraphernalia. In most shops, the law is likely to lead to the continuation of a policy where sales are refused to anyone who claims that they are going to use an item for an illegal purpose. Critics of the law fear that it will lead not to a reduction in drug use, but rather to nothing more than further crowding in Florida’s already packed jails.

Source: Huffington Post, "Florida Bong Ban Approved By Rick Scott," June 18, 2013

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