Pubdate: Sun, 21 Dec 2008
Source: Ledger, The (Lakeland, FL)
Copyright: 2008 The Ledger
Author: Joe Follick, and Lloyd Dunkelberger
Bookmark: (Paraphernalia)
Note: This is the 1st segment of today's column


Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has an interesting idea for
raising revenues during these tough times.

House Bill 99 would add a "surtax of 5 percent" on items described as
"drug paraphernalia" in Florida statute.

That includes not only "bongs" and "hypodermic syringes," but also,
according to state law, common items that can be fashioned into drug
tools including "a balloon," a "2-liter-type soda bottle" and "duct

Rouson said that if lawmakers are going to consider increasing the
cigarette tax, store owners who claim to sell tobacco-related pipes
and other accessories frequently used for illegal drugs should pay
more taxes as well.

"Why should they be sacrosanct and not taxed?" he said

"You and I both know it's only marijuana and drugs being smoked out of
the crack pipes and bongs It's another tool for law enforcement for
those owners of stores who profit off of drug paraphernalia."

Rouson, who was a guest at Gov. Charlie Crist's wedding last week, has
openly discussed his own past cocaine addiction.

He represents parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota
counties. The bill as written would apparently extend the surtax to
duct tape and two-liter bottles of soda.

Rouson said it was not his intent to punish, for example, a handyman
relying on the wonders of duct tape and he would amend the bill to
exclude drug-free use of common items.

Section 893.145 of state law does provide an interesting clash of
legal wording and the world of Cheech and Chong. Included in the
definition of "drug paraphernalia" is "Roach clips: meaning objects
used to hold burning material, such as a cannabis cigarette, that has
become too small or too short to be held in the hand."
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