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City Bans Bongs, Pipes To Regulate Drug Use


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Philadelphia Mayor John Street signed a law tightening regulations on drug paraphernalia Jan. 30 after the City Council unanimously ratified the bill.

The "Blunt Ban" prohibits the selling of any cigarette, cigar, tiparillo, cigarillo or other tobacco products, singly or in packages of fewer than three in Philadelphia convenience stores.

The law, which is aimed at keeping drug accessories out of the hands of kids, also outlaws the sale of bongs, pipes and any other products which could be construed as paraphernalia within 500 feet of schools, community centers and churches in Philadelphia.

The anti-paraphernalia legislation was championed by Jerry Rocks, a 32-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department and anti-crime activist. Rocks founded "Not in my Neighborhood," the group that has pushed Philadelphia convenience stores to pull items that could be used for illegal drug use. Educating citizens and changing laws are among the priorities of the organization, according to Rocks, who currently works in the district attorney's office.

Rocks say he believes this legislation will help to address what he calls "quality-of-life crime," which he says is a major problem in the city.

"This is about protecting our kids, stopping the small crime in the area," he said.

Rocks also sees a connection between drugs and the city homicide rate.

"I would say 70 percent of the homicides have some dealing with drugs," speculated Rocks.

In addition to regulating the sale of bongs, pipes and singly sold tobacco products, the new law also covers flavored tobacco products. The law specifically bans "any flavored cigarette, cigar, tiparillo, cigarillo or other tobacco product."

Rocks says that he believes that those products are aimed at children.

"I don't know any old women who smoke watermelon blunts and any old men that smoke blueberry and raspberry blunts," said Rocks.

The penalty for businesses selling the prohibited items can include a $1500 fine and closure of the business.

As far as the effect of the ban on Drexel students and others who use drugs, Dan Cardillo, a computer science major and president of Drexel NORML, the marijuana advocacy group, believes the impact will be small, if there is any at all.

"Officer Rocks is underestimating how resourceful pot-smokers can be. One could easily fashion a pipe out of an apple or potato, and with little effort, a two-liter bottle can be transformed into a bong. The list goes on and on."

In addition, Cardillo pointed out that the Internet can help even the most creatively challenged user find all the information they need to create a smoking device.

Rocks began the anti-paraphernalia campaign by asking Sunoco to pull the products, but according to him, the company "didn't want to hear anything."

"We will comply with the law. There's nothing more I would add to that," said Gerald Davis, a spokesman for Sunoco.

"We never sold blunt wraps, wrapping papers or many of the other devices the bill covered," said Lori Bruce, a spokeswoman for Wawa. "However, we did remove the cigars that were included in the legislation."

"We have a long history of being socially responsible and working with our communities, and we will continue that through strict compliance with all laws."

Both Sunoco and Wawa did not comment on whether they would remove the products from markets outside Philadelphia.

Rocks said he believes the companies are only pulling the products because of the new legislation.

"They say they are doing this for the good of the community, but they still sell it in Bucks County," said Rocks. He added, "They're pulling it because they have to."

Cardillo and NORML feel that the law is ineffective and unfair.

"This law is nothing but fluff," Cardillo said. "It's an assault on our civil liberties so they can pat themselves on the back and assure themselves that they've made the streets safer."

"The only thing [the City Council] has stopped is the convenience of walking a block to a 7-Eleven to get rolling papers," Cardillo said.

Tom Riley, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, explained that the Philadelphia law is not unheard of. Atlanta has an anti-paraphernalia law, and Washington, D.C. has one in the works. Riely says he believes new anti-paraphernalia laws are a sign of a changing opinion toward drug use.

"Over the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a societal change, with society turning against marijuana," said Riley.

"Reducing the means of using marijuana is something that makes sense," he added.

Jerry Rocks said the new law is only the beginning for his anti-crime group.

"This is just the first step," he said.

He said he believes the next project of Not in My Neighborhood will be "another good thing for the city."

Source: The Triangle Online
Author: Noah Cohen and Ali Qari
Contact: news @ thetriangle.org
Copyright: 2006 The Triangle
Website: http://media.www.thetriangle.org/


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So, will lighters be outlawed next? How about apples? WAIT, maybe we could outlaw the sun, and electricity, and then no one could grow it, and there'd be nothing to smoke! BRILLIANT!

What a monumental waste of time.

It's already against Federal law to sell pipes and such...ask Tommy Chong. I have a friend who got busted in the "Operation Pipe Cleaner" that targeted select headshops in my area a couple of years ago. She lost her shop and about $30k that was in the bank. She's almost done with probation, but here's the bitch. An identical head shop opened in the SAME SPOT as hers within 3 months of her bust. So they sit there and make money, while my friends cash sits in limbo. She'll get some of it back, but a large portion will go to local law enforcement.

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
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