Feds Seize Drug Paraphernalia From Six NC Stores

  Feds Seize Drug Paraphernalia From Six NC Stores

Posted by CN Staff on March 01, 2004 at 14:26:32 PT
By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press  

Raleigh, N.C. -- The federal government is going on the offensive against drug paraphernalia, seizing pipes, clips and other items from a half-dozen stores in eastern North Carolina.Federal prosecutors said Monday the searches and seizures are the first in a new campaign designed to make it harder to find materials that could entice teenagers to begin smoking marijuana.
"The distribution of drug paraphernalia is a federal felony," U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said at a news conference in Raleigh. "If we can cut down on the demand for drugs, it will make our jobs easier."Federal, state and local agents participate in last Thursday's searches of four Wake County and two Wilmington businesses as part of "Operation Pipecleaner." They recovered decorative and brightly colored bongs, as well as "roach" clips and miniature spoons.These kinds of items are defined in federal law as drug paraphernalia, and someone selling or trying to sell them can receive up to three years in prison, including fines and forfeiting the cited goods.No charges have been filed against the owners or employees at the six stores, but criminal counts are possible. The investigation and Operation Pipecleaner are continuing, Whitney said.Federal and local officials defended their campaign against retailers, who often have been allowed to operate despite the paraphernalia.After years of continuing efforts to convict drug suppliers, Whitney said Washington asked that local U.S. attorney come up with ways to reduce the demand for drugs. The middle and western districts of North Carolina are focusing on methamphetamines, he said.Marijuana is often labeled as a "gateway" drug because people who smoke pot are many times more likely to use heavier drugs such as heroin and cocaine, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.In the past, much of the marijuana smoked in North Carolina was grown in-state. Now, more of the drug is coming aboard tractor-trailers from Mexico and Central America and contains higher amounts of marijuana's active chemical, THC."The marijuana of 2004 is not your parents' marijuana, if they experimented with it," Whitney said.Keeping paraphernalia further away from high school or college students - some of the stores raided were next to North Carolina State University and UNC-Wilmington - should help discourage experimentation, the coordinator of Operation Pipecleaner said."The message is, 'The gateway is closed,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Newby said. "No more tickets will be sold."In February 2003, federal authorities charged 55 people with trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia in an investigation they said targeted the nation's biggest Internet distributors of bongs, crack pipes and other drug abuse gear. At the time, White House drug czar John Walters said, "This is a devastating blow to the drug paraphernalia business."While Newby declined to discuss the specific stores in North Carolina that were searched, he said many outlets sell drug paraphernalia alongside skateboards, posters and clothing linked with the youth culture.Agents seized items at Buddha's Belly stores in Raleigh and Wilmington; Snap Dragons and the Rock 'n' Roll Outlet in Raleigh; Rock 'n' Roll Village in Clayton; and Expressions in Wilmington.Drew Skidmore, the co-owner of Expressions, said the store talked to local law enforcement to ensure that their sales inventory was legal in Wilmington. He was surprised by the federal search."If they didn't want to us sell the stuff, they could have just sent us a letter," Skidmore said. The items Expressions sells are intended solely for tobacco or legal herbs, he said, and the store also sells incense, T-shirts and sex items.Skidmore questioned the point of singling out the six stores. "You can smoke illegal drugs out of any pipe in the world," he said. "You can smoke out of a Coke can or an apple."Local police can charge paraphernalia vendors in state court, but there is no specific count against paraphernalia sales and any punishment often is a misdemeanor.A person who identified himself as the manager at Buddha's Belly in Raleigh said agents removed items from about 20 percent of his store but declined further comment. Attempts to reach the other businesses were not successful. Source: Associated Press Author: Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press WriterPublished: March 01, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press CannabisNews Paraphernalia Archives

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Comment #15 posted by NeverGrowOld on March 03, 2004 at 18:23:02 PT:
Glass is not Grass
I was completely stunned to hear that the glass pipes from the 3 local head shops had been seized last Thursday. I am outraged that the federal government actually spent the time and money to seize the exotic tobacco pipes. The feds are so busy thinking they are “protecting” the youth from herb, I think they forgot some things; Underpaid Teachers, Overcrowded Schools, Public Parks and Recreation. Every year the government spends millions upon millions in anti-drug tactics; HEAR THIS, no matter what you do, smokers are going to keep on smoking and tokers are going to keep on tokin. “Operation Pipecleaner” is not the end of pieces in North Carolina, fight back and vote these money squandering political fools (U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney & U.S. Attorney Paul Newby) out of power.  
  ~A friend of smokers around the world~ 										             MB 
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Comment #14 posted by kaptinemo on March 03, 2004 at 04:20:24 PT:
The problem is one of appearences
As my instructors used to say when they wanted to make a especially important point: "Now, lissen up, 'cause this is no s**t."Decades ago, a silly rumor was started deliberately by some sly stoners that banana peels were psychoactive. Needless to say, only the most gullible believed it. To demonstrate the depth of that gullibility, the 'authorities' at the time even included warning against the smoking of banana peels as part of their anti-drug literature. It proved beyond any rational person's doubt that the 'authorities' were as clueless as *they* believed the clever stoners who tricked them to be.My point? The antis have *always* been a 'day late and a dollar short' in the rationality department. All they have going for them ultimately is the monopoly on force, and nothing else. And the money to pay for that force is slowly petering away; the States are taking hard, sharp looks at their budgets, and are tightening their belts with a vengeance. And one of the first things they cut are the funds for programs dealing with the 'window dressing' of the DrugWar like DARE. Very soon, the matter of State budget belt tightening will float up to the Fed level. More and more nationally syndicated columnists will begin to ask once-*verboten* questions about Fed priorities with regards to spending taxpayer's dollars. Demands that the Feds begin to behave as the States are now will begin to be heard. Allan Greenspan has already called for cutbacks in Social security benefits to pay for our (Constitutionally and morally illegal!) wars. You can imagine that this went over like the proverbial 'lead balloon' as far as many elderly people were concerned. Greenspan has practically put the entire Fed government's tongue on that long-warned against 'third rail'. The oldsters won't stand for that. They'll demand that the cuts be made elsewhere. And they have the political clout to do it.The Fed agencies, particularly ones whose livelihood is dependent upon the DrugWar, know that public perception of their efficacy will spell the difference between continued existence and disbanding. The DEA has received several black marks courtesy of the recent negative publicity regarding their inability to reduce illicit drug importation. They feel the eyes of the budget-cut-happy pols sizing them up like meat cutters do for a side of beef for future fiscal butchery. They've got to 'do something' to 'prove' their value as an organization. So they pull stunts like this.Desperation makes people do silly or stupid things. This is proof the Feds are capable of both. And it also proves just how truly worried they are for their paychecks. Given what they have done, they have grounds to be. 
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 02, 2004 at 11:04:58 PT
I understand what you are saying. What concerns me when we say things someway is how it can hurt people. I don't like to hurt people. I believe in attacking politics but I try hard not to offend the people who live in those states. People in the past have said bad things about Ohio and it always bothered me. I am not like most Ohioans because I'm a transplant from PA. I have more of a PA way of thinking. I guess I'm overly sensitive. Don't mind me.
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Comment #12 posted by breeze on March 02, 2004 at 10:57:15 PT
North Carolina
FOM- don't get me wrong, I love North Carolina. The land is beautiful, the people are friendly, but those in power- ugh.In my youth, the drive I would take each weekend to visit a friend in college was nothing less than an escape from my dismal life. And the people, the food, the parties made the difference.But, there was a county that refused to sell alcohol, as it is still a "dry" county to this day, most people would smoke instead.The people to whom I referred in my previous post are the cultural elite. I have met them as well, and they definetly leave a bitter taste upon ones outlook.I have been priveledged (or cursed) to have met people of such power in the state of NC and others, and frequently have found a vast hypocrisy. It is a system that tries to force down a person for their beliefs, their ideals, their morality. It is a definition of an us and them society. While the state allowed some people to break the rules, the same state allowed others to go beyond those same rules- it is definitely a case of social status.There have been several "high society" garden parties, where state law enforcement was at the function to provide security. I was not at the function, I do not care for such events where ones personality is defined by their bank account- but nonetheless, discovered from one of the guards in attendence that there was much more than a little marijuana consumption- there was mention of cocaine.
And there was even mention that the guard was offered a sniff of the crap, but since he was there to protect the priveledged group FROM outside interferrence, he was OBVIOUSLY not at liberty to make an arrest. And so , here is the double standard of those in power- with friends in high places versus those of the poor.I apparently failed in trying to demonstrate the double standards that the south holds so dear. While the memory of Jim Baker has faded from the public, it was obvious he was a hypocrite- the names have changed, but the principal is still alive. I hope this clears my stance on the issue, that I am not against people from NC,Alabama or any other state- but against the double standards- where one law is not equal for all men, but instead applies to those who are not within the "IN" crowd- the movers and shakers of the day.Its still alive, its called racism when its based on the color of ones skin, its called chauvenism when its based on ones sex, I have no idea what to call it when its based on ones power, prestige, wealth, and celebrity status- but its alive and well all across the nation- in every state.
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Comment #11 posted by Patrick on March 02, 2004 at 07:28:49 PT
Operation Pipecleaner
The only pipes getting cleaned are ours as we are collectively bent over and doinked by our own government.I feel so much safer now that they got the brightly colored bongs and "roach" clips off the street. Way to go tough guys makes that tax paid salary of yours feel really justified doesn't it?"The message is, 'The gateway is closed,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Newby said. "No more tickets will be sold."Real comedy isn't even as funny as this bozo's comments. No more tickets will be sold! ROFLMAO Now if you try to buy a ticket from your doctor and someone else's doctor your gateway is next. Bend over and get your pipe cleaned by the feds, after all you paid for it. Time to go vote!PS- FoM I too am originally from NC!
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 01, 2004 at 22:39:02 PT

I was born in North Carolina. We only stayed for a short while and my Mom wanted to go back to Baltimore so we were only there for a year and I don't remember it. I was just born there. Is it really beneficial to talk badly about different states? Some people that read or post her might live in one of the states. 
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Comment #9 posted by breeze on March 01, 2004 at 22:33:13 PT

North Carolina- the BILE of the south...
Gateways drugs are caffeine,alcohol, and tobbaco.Cigarette papers, and cigars are also used to smoke MARIJUANA. Why, haven't they done research? If the sale of rolling papers is considered paraphenelia, they should be VERY busy busting gas station attendees, because I have never, NEVER, been in a gas station that didn't sell cigarette (rollyerown) papers.And speaking of the bible belt, lets bring back crucificions. Go ahead and make cannabis use a crime punishible by death penalty, preferrably CRUCIFIxSION. Mel Gibbons would be proud!
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Comment #8 posted by Cannabis Enthusiast on March 01, 2004 at 22:27:23 PT

What's next, putting Zig-Zag out of business?
Most of the time when I smoke pot, I just take a cigarette rolling paper and roll a joint and pass it around with friends.And if I don't have rolling papers, I just use a empty soda pop can.The feds are idiots.

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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on March 01, 2004 at 18:09:42 PT

Let Us be humble.
But Let Us realize they are at the end of their circus / freak show."Federal prosecutors ... to make it harder to find materials that COULD entice teenagers to begin smoking marijuana. "What about the empty coke can; film container; potatoe; scrap pipe; peace pipe; regular Joe pipe guy, on an on?The Fed's are stooping.Gasping.

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Comment #6 posted by Robbie on March 01, 2004 at 17:29:12 PT

Thanks heavens!
This and keeping gay folks from getting Christianity has been redeemed!!
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Comment #5 posted by mamawillie on March 01, 2004 at 17:25:26 PT

Monumental waste
All I keep thinking is what a monumental waste of money and time this "operation" was. "The gateway is closed..." Uh, no it isn't. There is no gateway found in these stores. What's next: Bush regime outlaws apples and gordes? No more pumpkins for Halloween because kids might use them to smoke dope.I wonder what the percentage is of Americans they are actually fooling? I wonder if this is in retaliation for states moving toward legalization or at least medical MJ laws.... tightening the belt so to speak.Bush only "won" by what 577 votes last time. This time, he's gone and apparently plans to go down blazing.... (no pun)..
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Comment #4 posted by Virgil on March 01, 2004 at 17:23:01 PT

It is stupid alright
Why not go down to the Piggly Wiggly and take the brownie mixes? It makes you wonder who called for the big bust. Maybe they should remove the federal taxes that drive alcohol prices up so high and people will not want to waste money on black market prices when poisoning becomes cheap.
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Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on March 01, 2004 at 17:09:21 PT:

Laughing Out Loud
This is ridiculous because it changes nothing. Simply ridiculous.
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Comment #2 posted by cloud7 on March 01, 2004 at 16:30:29 PT

Hard to believe
Everytime I read some news about paraphernalia busts and how they are going to "cut down on the demand for drugs," I am freshly stunned. How illogical and twisted must your thinking be to actually believe that since people cant go to a local retail shop and buy a smoking instrument they will cut back/stop their use of some drugs? This is a load. These busts are nothing but a ploy to shake up some headlines about winning the WoD by going after the softest and most visible targets. These "dealers of paraphenalia" are found in the phonebook and pay business taxes. I have yet to go into a shop like this where they will not kick you out or reprimand you for even mentioning herb.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on March 01, 2004 at 14:59:39 PT

What a long strange trip it's been indeed
Whoa, the state of Alabama wants to ease up on the potheads, while the feds are seizing bongs in North Carolina.To someone who watched the sixties on the TV news, this is some mighty bizarre role reversal going on here.
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