Ban the bong…and then what?
A number of states in Australia have already, or are in the process of making the humble bong illegal according to the Northern Star Newspaper . http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2011/09/07/states-moving-to-ban-the-bong
At this juncture I want to raise a couple of salient points:
- To my knowledge the bong has never posed a health risk to the community beyond the risks directly posed to the individuals using them. I have never seen concerns raised about the health risks posed to the community by poorly disposed of cannabis smoking paraphernalia for example.
- The prohibition of bongs is highly unlikely to have any impact on the prevalence of cannabis smoking.
- The prohibition of bongs may lead to an increase in the use of homemade bongs (a phenomena that I would assert on the basis of anecdotal evidence already quite prevalent).
- The increase of home made bongs produced with whatever materials at hand will in fact increase the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals not designed to be either heated or inhaled.
- If the laws do reduce the usage of bongs, many people will move to less efficient means of using the drug, like joints or eating, requiring many people to buy more of the drug to get the same effect. This may in fact increase the profits made by black market operators.
Whatever your personal position on drugs and cannabis specifically, it is not hard to see that such a law will do nothing to eradicate the use of cannabis and will only increase the likelihood of harms experienced by cannabis users. So given these points why ban the bong?
Some Harm Reduction Tips for Cannabis Smokers
Dependent upon where you live in Australia the possession of a bong or other smoking implement may already be, or about to become illegal. One of the harms associated with the use of illegal substances is of course the legal and financial ramifications. One way to avoid legal sanctions for being in possession of a bong is to not use one. Eating cannabis is a less harmful way of using the drug, however the course of intoxication tends to be longer so you will need to plan ahead and ensure that you do not have to undertake any activities that require you not to be intoxicated (like driving or going to work) for quite a while after consuming the cannabis.
According to the Cautious with Cannabis website, if you insist on using a bong then:
- Keep it clean and regularly replace the water. Dirty bongs and water are breeding grounds for germs and viruses (not to mention they reek).
- Use a screen (filter) in the ‘cone’ or ‘down pipe’ – this prevents inhalation of small particles and contamination of the water.
- Monitor the water level in the chamber – if the water level is too high you risk water vapour entering the lungs which can cause lung infection. Too low a water level will mean that the smoke is not adequately filtered by the water. The ‘goldilocks’ (you know, just right) should be at least 20cms below the rim of the mouthpiece.
- Avoid using bongs made out of wood, aluminium or plastic (including those made out of drink containers or garden hoses). Toxic fumes can be released when smoking through these types of bongs. It’s less harmful to use bongs made out of glass, stainless steel or brass.
Reducing Harms Cautious with Cannabis Website http://www.cautiouswithcannabis.com.au/RH1.html accessed 7th September 2011
Mc Millan, M., 2011. States moving to ban the bong. The Northern Star, 7 September 2011 http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2011/09/07/states-moving-to-ban-the-bong/ accessed 7th September 2011