Police Take Aim at Glass Pipes

Police Take Aim at Glass Pipes
Posted by CN Staff on May 11, 2003 at 08:37:11 PT
By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff Correspondent
Source: Boston Globe 
The water pipe - or bong, as it's commonly known - cost $600 at Sugar Daddy's Smoke Shop and had mouthpieces to accommodate six people simultaneously. Customers bought that pipe and others like it to smoke tobacco, said Rich Franklin, who owns the Kenmore Square store.''I sell everything for tobacco,'' he said, ''and that's what everybody talks about when they come in here - whether it's for water pipes, hand-held ones, or dry pieces.''
The police aren't buying that explanation, though, and for now, nobody will be buying bongs at Sugar Daddy's.''They are selling pipes and other products used for smoking marijuana and other drugs, and it's in violation of general laws,'' said Boston Detective Sergeant Daniel Linskey, who is leading an effort to stop stores he calls ''head shops'' from selling items that police believe are used with illicit substances.''From my 17 years in drug enforcement, what the owners were selling is drug paraphernalia,'' Linskey said of the three stores police have visited so far, ''and I think they're being disingenuous if they're saying otherwise.''In the past few weeks, Boston police have told the owners of Sugar Daddy's and two other businesses to clear their shelves of pipes that could be used to smoke marijuana and other illegal drugs - or risk arrest and the seizure of property. Linskey said he could have arrested the owners on the spot, ''but I didn't want to be unreasonable.''Although Linskey said the crackdown began after he happened upon one of the stores while checking security in the city during the war in Iraq, the enforcement comes on the heels of national efforts to curtail the drug paraphernalia industry. Linskey would not say whether the local initiative would spread beyond Sugar Daddy's, Hempest on Newbury Street, and Buried Treasures on Haviland Street, all of which carried a large inventory of such products.State law prohibits the sale of paraphernalia ''under circumstances where one reasonably should know that it will be used to ... store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance.''But owners and employees at the three businesses said the products are intended for legal purposes only.''This law goes too far,'' said Franklin, who has cut staff and reduced his hours ever since Sugar Daddy's was the first store ordered to remove the alleged drug paraphernalia. ''I can't be held responsible for people using these for other things that's not to my knowledge.''Some items at the store cost up to $4,500, he said, and ''are so beautiful they belong in the Museum of Fine Arts.''Franklin said he's ''wicked strict'' in making sure customers aren't buying his products for illegal purposes, and added that his store is considering challenging the police order in court.''I am angry and so are my customers,'' said Renwick Samms, manager of Buried Treasures, where employees have put up additional signs reminding customers about the intended use of the products being sold.Still, visits by customers to the small back room have decreased since police issued the order. Behind the hanging beads, and inside the glass case, the black velvet shelves are now lined with glass candies, cloth wallets, and shiny lighters, instead of the pipes that drew customers such as Mike Pham of Worcester.''This is so bad. It must be the Bush administration,'' said Pham, who threw up his hands in dismay after finding that the pipes had been removed. A 20-something wearing a blue, button-down shirt and yellow tie, Pham said he would have to travel to the suburbs now to shop. He sighed and walked out empty-handed.At Hempest, where glass pipes that sell for between $10 and $1,000 make up about 10 percent of the business, the owners have gathered hundreds of signatures for a petition calling for glass pipes to be exempted from the state ban on drug paraphernalia. Despite the police order, the store still had some glass pipes on display, although fewer than before the officers visited.''This is just silly. Pipes have existed for thousands of years,'' said owner Jon Napoli. All the businesses have been operating for at least seven years, and owners said this is the first time their products have been challenged by the police.Although Linskey said his efforts to curb head shop activity sprang from an antiterrorism patrol of Kenmore Square, where he ''happened to discover Sugar Daddy's, who then told me about the Hempest,'' the local crackdown follows national initiatives. In late February, federal authorities charged 55 people in 10 states with trafficking illegal drug paraphernalia as part of Operation Pipe Dreams. Among those arrested were 17 owners and employees of head shops in Idaho and Eastern Oregon. US Attorney General John Ashcroft also has announced four indictments against national distributors of drug paraphernalia in Michigan, California, and Texas as part of another investigation, Operation Head Hunter.''National, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the country have determined that drug paraphernalia is something that needs to be addressed if we're going to make the drug problem smaller,'' said Scott Burns, a deputy director at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.Steven Epstein, a founder and treasurer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, sharply criticized what he viewed as an attack by Boston police on legal businesses. He also rejected the police characterization of the stores as head shops, and said at least two are licensed by the state to sell tobacco products.Epstein, a lawyer who is representing Sugar Daddy's, said the laws that define drug paraphernalia are convoluted, and he's concerned that police ''can threaten tobacconists with the loss of valuable inventory simply because the police believe the owner knew, or should have known, one of the customers was going to use it to smoke pot or crack.''Linskey disagreed, saying the laws are very clear.Not all customers may grasp the nuances of drug paraphernalia laws, however.Bryan Such, a longtime customer of Buried Treasures and a recent part-time worker at the store, said some young adults ''come in and use drug references which we don't approve here at all. It's almost like they think it's a safety zone, and laws don't apply to us. But they do.''This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 5/11/2003Note: Drug accessories moving off shelves.Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff CorrespondentPublished: May 11, 2003Copyright: 2003 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Cannabis Reform Coalition -- Paraphernalia Archives
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Comment #4 posted by freedom fighter on May 11, 2003 at 21:37:15 PT
Osma the pothead was here!
Osama the pothead was here, Osama the pothead was here, Osama Bin Laden the pothead was here!..In fact, Osama the pothead brought a pipe from that store seven years ago. Only by the antiterrorism patrol did I truly discovered the store that was selling heaven-forbidden glass pipes for seven years.Osama the pothead was here, Osama the pothead was here!Yes, Osama, I smoke pot and I am a human being. I do not go out and hijack a plane to kill.So who's the Osama Bin Laden, the antiterror patrol or a pot smoker minding his own biz?pazff 
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Comment #3 posted by observer on May 11, 2003 at 20:38:59 PT
Pot heads, Osama: What's the difference?
''Although Linskey said his efforts to curb head shop activity sprang from an antiterrorism patrol of Kenmore Square ...''Yeah. Can't get Osama, so the police can always scapegoat more pot heads. Hurting and getting at those marijuana smokers will surely appease their gods.
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on May 11, 2003 at 11:01:24 PT:
Is So-called Paraphernalia Legal in Canada or Not?
I have read and heard assertions that it is and that it is not. Does anyone know the truth about this issue?
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Comment #1 posted by Truth on May 11, 2003 at 09:26:30 PT
dark days
Our currant administration is delusional.
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