TEL AVIV - The Justice Ministry's Department of Counsel and Legislation added a clause that prohibits the holding of any device that can be used for the preparation or consumption of dangerous drugs to the 1973 Dangerous Drug Order. The upshot: "bongs" are now illegal.
The possession of the devices for the purpose of selling can result in 20 years in prison. Possessing them for personal use can result in a three-year sentence.
According to the clause memorandum, the selling of bongs spread lately over kiosks and grocery stores, where teenagers shop. These devices are also imported into Israel in large quantities. The availability of these tools encourages the use of drugs, and creates the impression that the law enforcement is forgiving about such violations.
Bongs are specialized water pipes that use vacuum pressure to force smoke into a user's lungs, enhancing the effects of the materials smoked. They can be made from many materials, including plastic, glass and metal.
The memo also said that the clause is difficult to enforce on sellers and importers because the authorities must prove that these tools were used for drug purposes. Bongs can be also used as decorations or smoking devices for drugs that are not prohibited by the Dangerous Drug Order.
The new clause, though, explains that even if a device, like the bong, is not used for other purposes, its possession is illegal if it was made for drug use.
'We will go back to cutting watering hoses'
The Al Sam Anti-Drug Abuse Association welcomed the new clause.
"A public atmosphere that supports drug users and allows the selling of devices that are made for that purpose leads many teenagers downhill," the association said. "This law suggestion is appropriate and it sends a clear message that opposes the usage of every type of drug."
At the kiosks, though, people are not happy. According to the owner of one store, the bongs in the entrance to his kiosk are flower vases.
"The city will lose a lot of money," one customer said. "Everyone will go back to cutting the watering hoses on the streets and the plants will dry up everywhere. That what happened before bongs were sold at kiosks. Besides, we can always smoke joints."
Green Leaf Party Chairman Shlomi Sandak said that the new rule would not make the product disappear, but would just raise their prices, as happened in the case of Hagigat.
"If once Hagigat cost NIS 30, today it is up to NIS 70," he said. "The drug-fighting authority is actually working with the drug delaers, because the prices are going up and the dealers profit. It is time for them to focus on the real problem of alcohol and hard drugs."