Bongs have been a popular way to enjoy either marijuana or tobacco since the 1960’s. Since this apparatus can both cool and purify the smoke for either substance it would seem this device should be legal, but in some places this isn’t the case. The association between pot and water pipes is so strong that in some places around the globe selling or owning a pipe can land you in trouble. It’s up to the bong owner to know the law in advance, and take steps to protect themselves and the seller from any legal consequence.
Not Everywhere and Not All the Time
In America, the state of Florida signed the “bong ban” law in 2013. This law carried stiff penalties for anyone who sells “marijuana devices”. Even before it was signed however, head shop owners had already banned together and hired a lobbyist, which is the reason the legislation was worded to say “knowingly and intentionally” sell this apparatus for illegal use of marijuana. This is the reason when someone enters a shop the stated purpose for buying any thing related to smoking can’t be specified as being for cannabis.
Reasoning Behind Laws
Laws such as the one in Florida are written with the intent of discouraging the use of cannabis. To make the legality of owning, buying and selling this type of item even more confusing other states in the U.S. have made the use of pot for medical use legal, and Colorado has made the ownership of small amounts lawful for use for any reason. Nationally however the Federal government still deems the growing, use, possession and sale of marijuana illegal.
In the United Kingdom the law on Cannabis are less vague, but still difficult to enforce. While laws change all the time at this present the use of marijuana in the U.K. is legally problematic. Marijuana plants, oil, and resin are Class A drugs. This makes it a schedule 1 drug with no therapeutic use under the law. Those who have possession of it, cultivate it, or supply it can be prosecuted. The sale of water pipe however, hangs in a sort of legal limbo. Even police in Britain and throughout the United Kingdom, police have arrested head shop workers and owners only to have them successfully arguing their case against this arrest. Still, those who sell bongs have to operate carefully.
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
In the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 owning paraphernalia for the use of marijuana “ingestion” is a criminal offense. Since anyone found with this product can argue the use is for smoking or using other lawful substance typically the charge will only apply if the object has traces of cannabis. While owning a water pipe does place a person at risk of arrest, having the device test positive for substances such cannabis makes the offense provable.
Entering a Head Shop
When entering a head shop those new to the buying and selling of bongs and similar equipment are often confused. Not only can the person selling the devices not tell them anything about how to smoke anything other than tobacco using the product, bringing up other uses can result in being ejected from the store on the spot, and even banned from ever re-entering. The reasons for this however, are easy to understand given the laws regarding the use. It is lawful for shops to sell a water pipe, rolling papers or anything someone using marijuana will ever need. The shop however cannot ever state this is a possible purpose of owing these supplies.
The proper etiquette for buying a water pipe is in most location never so much as whispering the word cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, or any word that could convey the idea of an illegal drug.
Owning a Bong
It’s not illegal to have a bong in most places. Anyone using this product for this purpose should look at local restrictions specific for drug paraphernalia in the city, town, state, parish, or district they live in to understand the local restictions regarding ownership. In most cases, while the ownership isn’t illegal using it for smoking an illegal substance is against the law.
Keeping it Clean
In places where the regulations are very strict and often enforced owners of water pipes typically keep these items very clean. This means dumping the bong immediately, and cleaning the device of any substance used recently. This also means cleaning the bowl, stem, and bottom were the bong was held, and the chamber where smoke collects.
Because the restrictions are subjected to change quickly it’s best to have an understanding of what lawmakers are currently discussing regarding the use and intent of using cannabis. Many do so by keeping up with local online forums or chats regarding such legal changes.