Agencies Eye Drug Paraphernalia 

  Agencies Eye Drug Paraphernalia 

Posted by CN Staff on April 14, 2003 at 12:49:09 PT
By Bill Frye, For the Daily Mail  
Source: Charleston Daily Mail  

Morgantown -- Each variety shop in Morgantown has its own atmosphere and its own flavor, whether it's the incense-filled Cool Ridge or the rock-heavy hipster palace called the Den.Among the T-shirts, jewelry, bobble head dolls, CDs, beer and school supplies available in at least one of the two are items federal authorities are particularly interested in: pipes and bongs used to smoke marijuana.
These businesses are known as head shops, and such stores across the country recently have been investigated and shut down by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. attorney's office for selling pipes and drug paraphernalia."We get just about everyone in here," said Frank Grimes, manager of the Den. He said his store can sell the pipes because they have a license to sell them for tobacco use only. He isn't worried about the recent raids that shut down head shops in the Pittsburgh area.The cooperative effort between the two federal departments, called Operation Pipe Dreams and Headhunter, led to a sting that resulted in the indictments of 50 people. Most were charged with trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia.The raids led to more than 20 businesses -- including stores in Pittsburgh -- and 11 Internet sites being shut down. No West Virginia store has been targeted."This illegal billion-dollar industry will no longer be ignored by law enforcement," Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a news release earlier this year after the Pennsylvania arrests."To make a billion dollars, you have to sell a lot of drug paraphernalia," said Mary Beth Buchanan, who is leading the investigation with the DEA in the western Pennsylvania district.The businesses investigated by the federal authorities were selling user-friendly (pipes, bongs, marijuana pipes, roach clips and other items) and dealer-friendly items (miniature scales and substances for "cutting" or diluting raw narcotics to maximize profits for drug sales).In the basement floor of Cool Ridge, there is a much bigger selection of pipes and bongs than what you can find at the Den. The bottom floor, albeit small, is nothing but pipes and bongs for sale. They wrap around the walls and behind the counter. There also is a glass case of smaller more portable pipes.Some of the pipes look like ordinary highlighters. Displayed prominently on the glass blocking some of the view of the pipes is a piece of paper with the words: Drug Paraphernalia License written across it. Buchanan said no such license exists on the federal level.Calls to the owner of Cool Ridge were not returned.The pipes and bongs sold at the Den are not big moneymakers, Grimes said. Those sales are dwarfed by the bigger sales they get from their CDs or other items."Saying we sell pipes is like saying we sell suntan lotion," Grimes said. "We're not even close to what those stores are. Our main things are the music and cigarettes."Buchanan said any shop selling drug paraphernalia is subject to prosecution."If they are selling items after these operations, they are doing so at their own peril," Buchanan said.The busts took place all across the nation, and more than 2,000 law enforcement officials took part in these busts."Any city in the country with a college population, if the shops exist then they could be targets," Buchanan said.Note: Stings target sales in ‘head shops' on campus nationwide.Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)Author: Bill Frye, For the Daily MailPublished: Monday, April 14, 2003Copyright: 2003 Charleston Daily MailContact: editor dailymail.comWebsite: -- Paraphernalia Archives

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Comment #1 posted by freedom fighter on April 18, 2003 at 16:22:38 PT
2,000 Man Hours?
2,000 law enforcement officials took part in these busts.2,000 man hour just to chase down folks who make pipes. That is just in one hour. Heck, I could use those 2000 man hour to run a productive and constructive business. A business that does not put human beings in cages, does not kill. Not sure when the "investigation" started... but you get the picture. What a mindless bloated wasted of resources that contributed nothing but more proof of oppression of a government against it's own people. They said it is a billion dollar business....Next year, it is a two billon dollars... In fact, it seemed to me that America loves it's prohibitions because billions billions billions of dollars to be made that way. pazff
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