Flower Power: Free the Florists!

By Sullum, Jacob | Reason, April 2004 | Go to article overview
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Flower Power: Free the Florists!


Sullum, Jacob, Reason


ONE DAY LAST year Sandy Meadows, who supervises the floral department at an Albertson's grocery store in Baton Rouge, was helping out at another Albertson's that had lost its florist. An inspector from the Louisiana Horticulture Commission stopped by and told her to throw out the seven arrangements she had produced that morning. Otherwise, he'd have to give her a $250 citation for practicing floristry without a license.

Although Meadows has nearly a decade of experience arranging flowers, state law requires that she practice her art only in stores that also employ a licensed florist. She does not qualify because she never passed the two-part licensing exam, which includes a one-hour written test and a highly subjective four-hour practical test judged by the very florists with whom applicants would compete. Unsurprisingly, most fail.

Louisiana appears to be the only state in the U.S. that does not trust consumers to judge the quality of floral arrangements. If Meadows gets her way, it will no longer have that distinction. In December she and two other women whose floral work has been praised by the public but rejected by the state filed a federal lawsuit challenging the licensing requirement as an arbitrary, unconstitutional infringement on their right to earn a living.

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