: Banning the bong

Banning the bong

Steven Castan
Victoria

As of 1 January 2012, a new law relating to the display, sale and supply of bongs and hookahs shall come into force in Victoria which heralds substantial changes to the previous law.

The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 will be amended by the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Prohibition of Display and Sale of Cannabis Water Pipes) Act 2011.

Under the amendment Act, new stringent laws shall be enforced, and have a number of components. The law bans the display, sale and supply of bongs (referred to as ‘cannabis water pipes’ in the Act), bong components and bong kits and limits the sale of ornamental hookahs.

The amendments to the Act will make it illegal for retailers (including stall holders in markets) to display, sell or supply bongs in the course of commercial activity as well as the sale of component parts and ‘bong kits’. Further, the amendment to the Act will make it illegal to display more than three hookahs in the course of a commercial activity, however, hookahs may continue to be displayed and sold in the course of commercial activity and are exempt from the bong ban.

This is a marked change from previous laws whereby bongs were available for commercial sale on the basis that these products arguably were primarily utilised for the consumption of tobacco products (even though it was widely acknowledged that they were actually being utilised for the consumption of cannabis)

The amendment to the Act includes powers for Victoria Police, who are entrusted with the enforcement of the new amendments, to seize and destroy bongs, bong components and bong kits if the police member has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the cannabis water pipe or bong is displayed or is for sale or is supplied in contravention of the Act. However, the Act does allow for the return of the bong if the reason for the seizure no longer exists.

It is noted that it is still not against the law to possess a bong under the new Act — unless it is for the purpose of sale and display in a retail outlet.

The Baillieu Government has stated that it consulted a number of representatives from Middle Eastern and Arabic communities particularly in relation to the limit on the display of Hookahs, however it has not stated how many stoners, Rastafarians and Pink Floyd fans it consulted prior to the introduction of the new law relating to bongs.

STEVEN CASTAN is a Victorian barrister.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 285
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