Civil Liberties

Beauty Is in the Eye of the State Licensing Board

|

In the April issue of Reason, I review the new edition of Jim Hogshire's Opium for the Masses, a book that explains how poppy pods commonly available from florists and craft stores become contraband under federal law once the person possessing them learns they can be used to make a psychoactive tea. Louisiana has an even crazier law that makes all flowers illegal once they are artfully arranged and offered for sale—unless the arranger holds a state license. Today several unlicensed florists represented by the Institute for Justice conspicuously broke that law in New Orleans  to dramatize their constitutional challenge to the state's unique-in-the-nation licensing scheme. "Floral arrangements made by unlicensed florists will be sold on the steps of the U.S. District Courthouse," I.J. announced in a press release, "with the perpetrators of this so-called crime available for questioning."

This is the second time I.J. has sued to overturn Lousiana's florist licensing law. The first lawsuit, which I covered back in 2004, had to be abandoned because the plaintiffs either died or moved out of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I.J. claims the licensing requirement violates rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment: due process, equal protection, and "privileges or immunities," which include the freedom to earn a living. It argues that the regulations fail the "rational basis" test because they do not serve a legitimate public purpose: No health or safety issues are implicated by unauthorized floral arrangements, and consumers can judge for themselves whether they like the results. "We're confident because there is no legitimate reason for the government to dictate who can and who cannot arrange flowers," says I.J. lawyer Tim Keller.

The new lawsuit, which was filed this week, is also backed up by a recent I.J. study in which "Louisiana-licensed florists as well as unlicensed florists from across the border in Texas were asked to judge a random line-up of floral arrangements—25 purchased from shops in regulated Louisiana and 25 purchased from unregulated Texas." Guess what? "Not even the licensed Louisiana florists could find any difference in the quality of the arrangements." Yet Thomas Spedale, a licensed florist in Lafayette who likes the idea of having the state artificially restrict his competition, says Louisiana's legislators were farsighted to perceive a threat to the public from improperly arranged flowers and nip it in the bud:

We are the only state in the union who has this law, and I think we lead the nation. I think Louisiana has this right. This is protection for the consumer.

Advertisement

NEXT: Keep Your Laws Off My Body

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Okay, just a side note. I live in Texas and spend a lot of time in Louisiana. I don’t want IJ to compare the two legal systems like this again, because I’m afraid that spiral will inevitably wiggle downwards. We’ll end up in a race to see who has the most fucked up laws.

    1. We’ll end up in a race to see who has the most fucked up laws.

      Hell, I think I can see the finish line from here.

  2. Nobody is responsible for this. There are no relationships between any Louisiana legislators and florists. This was merely an accidentally bad law from some dumb low IQ legislator. Total incompetence.

    1. I had a a barber friend who stated that the Texas State Board of Barbers (now disbanded, to our credit) was probably formed when a Texas Governor had a brother-in-law who was so useless that he couldn’t even make a living as a barber, so he created the board to give him a job.

    2. Are you still trying to troll or have you just given up. I can’t really tell the difference with you.

  3. I can just see the illegal flower arranger, sitting in the holding cell, with the murderers, rapists, bank robbers and drug dealers.

    “What you in for?”

    “Arranging flowers without a license.”

    1. “Hey, Arlo, I’ve got a new song idea for ya…”

    2. “murderers, rapists, bank robbers and drug dealers

  4. On a similar note,I’ve never understood the mentality behind hairstylists’ licenses. I can maybe get the justification for needing a license to (for example) dye hair or strip dye out of it, since those both require some potentially nasty chemicals, but to simply cut or style hair? Why should anyone need a license to offer, say, French-braiding services?

    1. Actually, there may have been some rationale to license barbers back in the day when getting a shave from one was common. Barbers then had to not only learn how to handle the razor but also to stop bleeding and prevent infections if they did cut someone.

      A straight razor in unskilled hands is not something I want close to my throat. 🙂

      1. Don’t forget the surgery.

        1. Barbers have not been doing surgery in my lifetime. They did, however, regularly shave customers for a substantial portion of it.

          I’m not really sure what kind of reaction you’d get today if you picked a barbershop at random and went in and asked for a shave.

          1. The barber shop I take my son to get his haircut still has the old chairs with the little ashtrays in the arms of the chairs. Good times.

            Not sure if they shave, but I don’t think they do.

          2. The few old guys left will still give you a shave. I’ve also seen a resurgence around the idea of a “men’s salon”, of course they charge stupid high rates for shoe shines and shaves.

          3. I’m not really sure what kind of reaction you’d get today if you picked a barbershop at random and went in and asked for a shave.

            I am. The response is “Heh! We don’t do that anymore”.

            1. And if they do, it will cost a heck of a lot more than two bits.

      2. straight razors, bbrrr.

        If I ever get thrown back in time, I think I would have to melt candle wax on my face and rip it before I could submit to one of those.

        1. I had it done. It’s no big deal. Of course I was about to slash my own throat when I was told how much I owed at the register. Not worth it normally, but maybe cool to have done before your wedding or something.

    2. Barbering is licensed due to sanitary considerations. Nasty fungal infections (Tinea Barbae) or lice infestations can result from improper disinfection of scissors, combs, razors, etc. The licensing authorities couldn’t care less if the barber/cosmotologist/hairstylist gives an ugly haircut. That aspect of the trade is usually self-curing (i.e. one doesn’t go back to a barber if he gets a lousy cut).

      1. …but yet, I’ll still go back to a barber/stylist if I “mysteriously” get head lice after getting a cut? Or if I get a fungal infection?

        1. Unless the braider did something like wash her hands in feces shat out of an AIDS victim’s ass right before working on your hair, I don’t see how any diseases or infections can be spread by unlicensed French braiding, either.

          And I vaguely recall a high-school friend who was studying to be a hairdresser; the majority of her textbook dealt with styling techniques, NOT the means of disinfection. Yeah, granted, 80s fashions really sucked, but that still doesn’t justify government licensing of hairstyles.

          1. It is legal to braid people’s hair without a license…until you charge for it. In other words, as noted above, it is straight up competition limiting.

  5. To prevent anarchy.

  6. Eat a bag of dicks, Thomas Spedale.

    1. LOL. I am from New Orleans and I know a Thomas Spedale from New Orleans. It’s not him, but I can’t wait to send this link to him.

      “I had no idea you were a statist floral designer, Tommy?!?!”

    2. Seconded. Fuck that state worshipping fop with a serrated dildo.

  7. I’d like to put something in the eye of the state licensing board. Where’d I put that knitting needle…

  8. “We are the only state in the union who has this law, and I think we lead the nation. I think Louisiana has this right. This is protection for the consumer.”

    From what? It’s putting flowers in a vase. What’s the hazard to consumers?

    What’s that? Nothing?

    Yeah, kind of what I thought.

  9. Red states just don’t know how to regulate! Here they have laws preventing people from selling flowers but they let banks sell predatory mortgages.

  10. Is this Thomas Spedale guy for real:”Louisiana’s legislators were farsighted to perceive a threat to the public from improperly arranged flowers. ” You know what, he is right. I once saw an unlicensed floral arrangement eat a 2 year old girl. It was horrible.

  11. “Feed me, Seymour!”

  12. If they are unlicensed how do we know they won’t accidentally sell us poisoned flowers that will blow their spores into our faces, making us happy and wanting to beam the flowers back up to our ship to spread throughout the Federation?

    1. Spock will laugh and be emotional! That’s not good for him! Why won’t somebody think of the Vulcans?

      1. I…am…not…like…you!

  13. psychoactive tea

    Shame on you for not posting this.

  14. really looking forward to the article on opium poppies, my favorite flower. Louisiana has some horrible laws like State Act 159 which bans over 40 psychoactive plants.

  15. a haiku:

    what’s in that vase, boy?
    got an arranging license?
    you’re coming downtown.

  16. I think Louisiana has this right.

    SEMANTIC FAIL. The word “right” has become completely debased.

  17. They can have my rosebud…uh, I mean an actual rosebud, you know, from a rose bush…thats a regular flower BUSH, when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
    Man, who knew there were so many double entendres with flowers…

    1. (raises hand)

  18. ‘I.J. claims the licensing requirement violates rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment: due process, equal protection, and “privileges or immunities,” which include the freedom to earn a living.’

    Some slaughterhouses in New Orleans tried to invoke the Privileges and Immunities clause of the 14th Amendment in defense of their right to earn a living. The result was the Slaughterhouse opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court.

  19. No health or safety issues are implicated by unauthorized floral arrangements

    So wrong! I get sick just thinking about unauthorized arrangements.

  20. Nasty fungal infections (Tinea Barbae) or lice infestations can result from improper disinfection of scissors, combs, razors, etc.

    Which has what to do with licensing? I don’t need a license to run a restaurant, but I do need to submit to inspection. Surely that’s sufficient? Personally, I don’t think the government must necessarily perform this inspection, but it’s still a good idea to offer your customers proof of safety.

  21. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  22. Women should look beautiful, smell fragrant, pleasant to get along together, and work independently .

  23. every beauty in every eyes.as a female,i guess the most beautiful equal to independence and ability.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.