Drug Law
Drug Law

Why is "Bong Baby" Bad, but "Beer Baby" is Funny?

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville


You may recall a story this summer from Florida, where a nineteen-year-old mother was facing the possible loss of her infant because she took a picture of him with an (unloaded) bong.

There is no smoke and no cannabis (or tobacco) in this bong - it's just a baby playing with a piece of plastic

(CBS News) The 19-year-old mother from Keystone Heights, northwest of Gainesville, is defending the photo. She claims it was taken as a joke and posted on Facebook so that she could show it to one of her friends.

Eventually, the photo fell into the hands of the Florida Dept. of Children and Families which is now in the process of drug testing both the mother and the baby, says Sky News.

John Harrell the spokesperson for the group told Sky News, “We are alarmed that any parent would take pictures of their child next to what is obviously drug paraphernalia.”

If drugs were used by or found near the baby, she could face serious charges, and could possibly lose her 11-month-old son to the state of Florida.

Now, fortunately, the drug testing of the baby has come back negative, as expected, but the mother is still in serious trouble.

(CBS News) Nineteen-year-old Rachel Stieringer turned herself in to Clay County Sheriff’s deputies and has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after she took a picture of her baby “smoking” out of a bong and posted it on Facebook.

The Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into Stieringer’s parenting skills and announced Monday that although the bong appears to be smoke-filled the baby sustained no injuries in the taking of this photo, and his drug tests came back negative.

That paraphernalia charge in Florida is a misdemeanor subject to a possible one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.  So instead of taking the baby away from the mother, Florida just might take the mother away from the baby.

Meanwhile, one of my Facebook friends alerted me to this picture making rounds on the social network. We don’t know how old the father and child are in the picture and we don’t know if they are in Florida, but it’s safe to say that this father could not be prosecuted in any state for a photograph of his child surrounded by not only drug paraphernalia (the red plastic keg cups), but actual drugs of various strains and potencies!

It doesn’t sound as if Rachel is a bad parent – she’s just a cannabis consumer with the bad judgment of putting that photo on Facebook.  But I do know plenty of parents who think nothing of leaving their half-finished beers laying around the house (I know that’s where I got my first taste at around age eight) or even giving their kids a sip from time to time.  In fact, most states allow for parents to serve their children alcohol in the home, often for religious reasons.

On my last camping trip with my wife’s family this dynamic was in full effect.  We were forced to set up our tent on the outskirts of the camp and to smoke pot only in our tent, lest the little ones running about see or smell what we’re up to, despite my wife being a legal patient in two states (Washington, where we camped, and Oregon, where we live).

Meanwhile, the center of the camp where everyone congregated was dominated by a picnic table laden with two things: children’s toys and bottles of liquor.  The kids were literally playing with coloring books and Legos on the table where Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo, and Johnny Walker were babysitting.  Next to the picnic table, six coolers, one filled with sodas and water and the other five filled with beers and wines.  One aunt got so shloshed by 3pm that my nine-year-old niece is telling her she’s drunk.

And that was all completely legal and socially acceptable.  Sometimes I have to smoke pot just to deal with the hypocrisy of the world.