Concord, Merchant at Odds Over Smoking Items!

Concord, Merchant at Odds Over Smoking Items!
Posted by FoM on July 23, 1999 at 07:47:38 PT
By Truong Phuoc Khánh,Times Staff Writer
Source: Hot CoCo
CONCORD -- One day after planning commissioners denied a retailer's application to sell tie-dye T-shirts, posters, and pipes that can be used for smoking marijuana, Gypsy Trader remained in business Thursday, its owner vowing to appeal to the City Council.
Khalid Raz, whose family owns similar stores in Berkeley, opened his shop at 1500 Monument Blvd. in late May. When the city learned Raz had a separate section offering a variety of glass, metal and ceramic pipes that can be used to smoke marijuana, city planners ordered him to close the store.Planning commissioners upheld the decision Wednesday night with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Marygrace Puchac was absent."It's a kind of business we don't particularly like to see in Concord," said Commissioner Joe Moran. "We're trying to upgrade the Monument corridor, and they're selling drug paraphernalia in the store."Raz had received by mistake a draft letter from the city approving his business. He said it prompted him to invest $25,000 to remodel the store in the Monument Plaza Shopping Center."These are legal products I'm selling," Raz said Thursday. "My intent is not to sell these products for drugs. These pipes are legal … and it's my First Amendment choice to sell these products."Moran and city planners did not dispute the legality of the pipes, only that the business would not enhance the Monument corridor."I'm not going to encourage that kind of business in Concord," Moran said.Moran said he was unaware that another business in the middle of downtown Concord, Generation Rock, also offers similar pipes and a variety of other goods, including posters, T-shirts and jewelry.Pubdate: July 23, 1999© 1999 Contra Costa Newspapers Inc.
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