Bong blow for Ballarat retailers

SEVERAL Ballarat retailers have been dealt a blow, with police now able to enforce new laws which ban bongs from being sold in Victoria. The legislation was introduced into parliament several months ago and came into effect from January 1. It bans the sale, display and supply of bongs, along with the supply of bong components and bong kits from retail outlets. When the laws were introduced, Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the government was addressing a long-standing contradiction in Victorian law.

“While cannabis remains an illegal drug, one of the commonly used methods of consuming it – the bong – is widely available to buy,” Ms Wooldridge said. “Through making the display and sale of bongs illegal we take them out of the markets, off the shelves, and out of shop windows and stop them being seen as a normal retail item.” Businesses will face fines of up to $1465 after the phase-out period expires.

Government data suggests almost one third of Victorians aged 14 years and over report having used cannabis at some stage in their lifetime, making cannabis the most widely used illicit drug in Victoria. There are increased risks to personal mental health from cannabis use, with research indicating that cannabis use is associated with increased risk in the development of mental illness.When the laws were announced, owner of Westside Hydroponics Andrew Michlin, one of a handful of Ballarat shops selling bongs, said the ban wouldn’t work.

“The ban won’t solve any of their concerns about bongs and it’s not going to stop people doing what they want to do,” he said. “You can easily make your own bong, but the trouble is the stuff people use isn’t really safe and can be carcinogenic.” The Facebook page of alternative lifestyle store Off Ya Tree, which has a franchise in Ballarat, posted a reminder to customers last week to purchase bongs before the ban came in. No Ballarat bong retailers could be reached yesterday.

via : The Courier

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