Bill banning bongs awaits Florida Gov's signature

Bill eliminates exception allowing certain retailers to sell pipes

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - A bill banning vendors from outlawing the sale of marijuana pipes known as "bongs" is awaiting Florida Gov. Rick Scott's signature.

Last week, the Florida House passed a bill eliminating an exception that allows certain retailers to sell the pipes if at least 75 percent of their sales come from tobacco products or they have no more than 25 percent of "certain drug paraphernalia" sales. Any sale of marijuana pipes would be a first-degree misdemeanor if the bill becomes law. Second and subsequent violations would jump to a third-degree felony.

"If you want to get high in Florida, you'll have to get a prescription like everybody else," said Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report."

Several South Florida business owners worry about the ban hurting their businesses.

"Been here 20 years," said Matthew Ward, the owner of Peace Pipe in Fort Lauderdale. "We sell pipes. We sell t-shirts, incense tobacco, everything."

Ward employs six people, including Michelle Bereatowski.

"If they actually came in and took inventory out, that's like throwing money down the drain," she said.

"It's going to destroy jobs. It's going to destroy businesses," said Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein.

Finkelstein called the bill useless.

"The national grain is for legalization. We in Florida, we haven't even gotten it together to legalize medical marijuana," he said. "It's really just so legislators can pound their chests."

"Drugs, illicit drugs, have no place in American society," said Florida Sen. Alan Hays.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.