Drug Law

Marijuana Madness: Bong Wars in Minnesota, Florida

| by Marijuana Policy Project

While states across the country are discussing positive reform of marijuana laws, there have recently been some bizarre exceptions, as other states have renewed attacks against one of the most recognizable icons of marijuana use: the water bong.

Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would close a loophole in state law that makes it possible to prosecute people for the contents of their bong water. Under the bill, which passed the Minnesota legislature in a nearly unanimous vote, prosecutors would no longer be able to use bong water to calculate the weight of controlled substances in drug cases.

We’ve previously discussed the court ruling that allowed Minnesota residents to be charged with drug possession for the drug residue dissolved in the water used to filter the smoke from pipes or bongs. While the case in question involved methamphetamine residue, policy analysts worried that the same ruling could easily be applied to marijuana residue.

Last year, Pawlenty – a Republican who is widely expected to run for president in 2012 – vetoed a medical marijuana bill that would have permitted seriously ill patients to use marijuana without fear of arrest.

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Meanwhile, a bill in Florida was recently passed that basically outlaws the sale of water pipes in commercial establishments.  Some stores would be exempt from this, but most “head-shops” will likely be forced out of business.

It seems a sure sign that prohibitionists are grasping at straws when these types of policies are invoked.  In an act of desperation, drug warriors are ramping up the attack on a symbolic tool used by marijuana users, and the people that do business with them. Does anyone think this will stop anyone from using marijuana? Or will it simply tie up more money in prosecuting and punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens?