Minnesota Legislature: Up in Smoke?

Minnesota Legislature: Up in Smoke?
Posted by CN Staff on March 06, 2007 at 21:31:36 PT
By John Brewer, Pioneer Press
Source: Pioneer Press
Minnesota -- One man's legal smoking accessory is another man's illegal drug paraphernalia. But if Minnesota State Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, has her way, a bong will be a bong will be a bong. And it will be a crime to sell, buy or use one."We recognize that you can smoke pot out of a pop can, an apple, a light bulb," Koch said. "We're going after the bongs."
Selling drug paraphernalia is already illegal in the state. Koch said her bill would strengthen the current law by taking away what she calls a "loophole" in the legislation.Shop owners can sell hand pipes, one-hitters and water pipes because the state's drug paraphernalia law allows them to presume their products are being used to smoke tobacco — exclusively.In fact, some shops say they either correct a customer's language or send them out the door if they insist on using pot vernacular.Case in point: On a recent afternoon at Maharaja's in downtown St. Paul, where swords and collectible figurines are sold alongside Grateful Dead posters and glass pipes, a customer asked if a small pouch of the legal herb salvia divinorum would be enough for a "joint."The clerk asked, "You mean a hand-rolled cigarette?"Koch's new bill lists exactly what "paraphernalia" is and includes bongs, glass pipes, dugouts and one-hitters. It excludes traditional pipes, like corncob pipes and hookahs.Koch had presented similar legislation last session, but the bill was pulled from a public safety omnibus bill at the last minute, she said.This year, the fate of Senate File 278 is still unknown. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee in January but has not yet had a hearing. The House companion bill is also in committee.Koch said her bill is aimed at places that sell paraphernalia, specifically the nonmetro shops that may have a selection of pipes alongside groceries or cigarettes. She knows that bigger stores, like the northwest metro's Down in the Valley chain or Maharaja's in St. Paul, could also be affected."I really think that, for our community, it was really the exposure to the kids," Koch said.If the bill became law, it would go into effect Aug. 1. Violations would be considered a misdemeanor.Storeowners React / Most head-shop owners were reluctant to talk about the new bill, but a few said they are not catering to kids. No storeowner mentioned marijuana; most said their wares are for tobacco and legal herbs. No one would allow his or her collection of pipes to be photographed.Paula Schleis, owner of Dazy Maze Incense and More in Forest Lake, said Koch's bill goes too far."It's really a shame we have to deal with this again," said Schleis. "I've had my store for eight years, and I run a clean shop."Schleis said she sells a lot of " '70s stuff," like beaded curtains, posters and jewelry, and has a back room where she keeps her tobacco accessories."The front of my store is open to everybody," she said. "To get into my back room, you have to be 18 years old."Keith Covart has run the Electric Fetus music and gift store in Minneapolis since 1968. Since starting on the West Bank, he has opened stores in Duluth and St. Cloud and has seen cultural mores change regarding smoking accessories.He said that when legislators start defining what his products are used for, "it's scary legislation.""It's just a freedom thing," he said. "Can you smoke a cigarette and not be arrested? Where are we going?""If someone states that they want a bong, we say we don't have that and we ask them to leave," said Steve Hyland, who runs four Down in the Valley stores, the first of which opened in 1972.In his 35 years in business, he has seen similar legislation come and go, he said, and even helped to form a lobbying group to fight it. This time around, there is no unified front against Koch's bill."Nobody seems to be concerned about this," he said. "They don't think it's going to pass. It's so vague. How do you prove it?"Debating The Law / St. Paul City Attorney John Choi said that "proving it" — showing someone bought or sold a pipe for an illicit use — is time-consuming and extremely difficult with current laws."You've got to prove what was in the mind of the person selling and the person possessing," he said. "This would be a step towards addressing some of those proof issues."At the same time, he added, inadequate resources in both his office and in law enforcement statewide would limit the number of paraphernalia cases pursued."I don't know if this would change anything in terms of the cases we prosecute in our office," Choi said.Add to this the fact that selling drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor — with a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of not more than $1,000 — and the bite of the bill weakens."We're not going to be shutting anyone down as a result of this law," Choi said.Tom Walsh, spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, praised the bill."I think the more difficult we make access to those kinds of things, the better our opportunity to keep people from using those controlled substances," he said.Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said drug paraphernalia statutes don't have much impact, mainly because they make illegal just a handful of things people could use to smoke marijuana.In fact, Koch's bill makes no mention of what St. Pierre called the fastest-growing segment of the paraphernalia business: vaporizers."If they went and took out the things identified as paraphernalia, it would still leave dozens of legal products," he said.Robert Vaughn, a Nashville, Tenn.-based defense attorney, has heard all the arguments for and against paraphernalia.He has represented clients in 35 states since 1981, he said, in trials that stem mainly from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's introduction of a model paraphernalia law in 1979."Anything can be drug paraphernalia, and nothing has to be" under current law, he said."Drug paraphernalia is bounded only by the imagination of the drug user."Note: Lawmakers are considering whether to end the legal distinction that bans the sale of pot-smoking paraphernalia but allows the same merchandise to be sold for use with tobacco.Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)Author: John Brewer, Pioneer PressPublished: March 5, 2007Copyright: 2007 St. Paul Pioneer PressContact: letters pioneerpress.comWebsite: Paraphernalia Archives
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Comment #13 posted by greenfox on March 10, 2007 at 08:53:22 PT
HA HA FRICKEN' HA! Demonize, trivialize and make it funny, right? then people won't take the issue seriously.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 08, 2007 at 18:31:49 PT
Lawmakers Debate use of Medical Marijuana 
Video: 8, 2007Minnesota -- Lawmakers at the state capitol are debating the legalization of medical marijuana here in Minnesota. A House committee took up the issue legalizing marijuana for medical use today, and will resume the discussion tomorrow.  Although marijuana use can be perceived as a taboo act of recreation, others find it’s an escape from painful suffering. Supporters say they feel confident about their movement to make it legally available to those in need of relief from such pain. Shannon Pakonen has nearly constant symptoms from Turrets Syndrome. He says marijuana eases the discomfort. He has spoken in support of medical marijuana -- something he says led to a teacher harassing his teenage son, who has developmental disabilities. Still, the idea of medical marijuana use is gaining increased bipartisan support. The legislation saw some progress in 2006, with even more support this year. However, some opponents of the bill have no plans to ease their fight against it. Dakota County Attorney James Backstron says he has little doubt that legalizing medical marijuana will have unwelcome consequences. "More use of marijuana for non-medical reasons for many, including youth. And that's the major concern of law enforcement" said Backstron. Oh the other hand, House Rep. Steven Sviggum says he has come around on the issue. He called law enforcement in the 11 states where medical marijuana is legal, and found no increases in crime. "I think it's a compassionate thing to do, the right thing to do. Empower patients and doctors not politicians to make the best decisions the best recommendations" said Sviggum. Sviggum believes the bill could pass this year, and hopes conversations with Governor Pawlenty can lead to compromise. But Pawlenty sides with law enforcement on this issue, and strongly opposes legalizing medical marijuana. Copyright: 2007 Fox Television Stations, Inc.,
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 07, 2007 at 16:02:34 PT
I like how they are using art to make a point. A picture can really be worth a thousand words.
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Comment #10 posted by Toker00 on March 07, 2007 at 15:06:37 PT
Activist Video. BACKBONE Campaign.
Please watch this vid. These guys are an example of Americans working together. I wanted to spotlight them because Two of the vertebrae on this backbone say END THE DRUG WAR (1:08 into the video) They have included us in their efforts and I just wanted to thank them by sharing this vid. Enjoy!
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Comment #9 posted by ekim on March 07, 2007 at 11:20:16 PT
yes museman -- Leap is speaking out
ATLANTA - A bipartisan group of lawmakers called for tighter restrictions Wednesday on how police use "no-knock" warrants in the wake of a shootout that left an elderly woman dead after plainclothes officers stormed her home unannounced. A measure by state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, would allow judges to grant the warrants only if police officers can prove a "significant and imminent danger to human life." The measure, which was co-sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jeff Mullis, was prompted by a Nov. 21 shootout between Kathryn Johnston and three Atlanta Police officers during a no-knock search for drugs in her northwest Atlanta home. Johnston, who was 92, was killed and three officers were wounded.
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 Peter Christ Carrollton Georgia USA 
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 South Cobb Georgia Rotary Club Mar 15 07 North Cobb County Rotary 07:30 AM Peter Christ Kennesaw Georgia USA 
 Pinetree Country Club
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Comment #8 posted by museman on March 07, 2007 at 09:26:57 PT
Everyone knows the 'drugs' mostly variations of refined opium, and coca, but what about ideological addictions, psychological addictions, and most ignored; forced addictions.TV, money. Money has got to be one of the most harmful and destructive addictions known to man. The denial of a rich man is just as empty and meaningless as a heroin addict.And then there is the accompanying addictions to such a disease as wealth; like the addiction to power. This article shows the petty power addictions that are possible under the current regime of control freaks and power addicts. Prohibition is a perfect example of 'forced addiction.' If medication is needed to addresss pain and life-quality issues, people aren't allowed to medicate themselves -even if they have a better idea of their own being than anyone else - and are forced to accept the inferior alternatives sold by the pharmas. So instead of benign cannabis, they get synthesized crap that has a list of side efects longer than the label. FORCED ADDICTION.Television is a gateway drug. It leads to all manner of mistaken assumptions, and incorrect information, and a lifetime of confusion. Education (as it stands) destroys right-brain activity, forcing all thought to be contained within a proscribed and limited area of the brain, and efectively halting all creative progress in those who succumb to it. Religion goes one step further and imprints a false right-brain-like image in the left lobe, which fools people into thinking they are being creative and progressive, when in actuality they are dead in the spiritual water.Contrary to the addled 'research' by federal agencies on the properties of cannabis, these afore mentioned addictions are not just real, but are deciding factors in the direction our reality is going. Our government is so wrong, and the offices have all agreed to it (because they are all hopelessly addicted) that all who enter those halls of injustice and inequity as willing participants, become (if they are not already) power junkies, money dealers, and war brokers.So who's foolin' who?
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Comment #7 posted by Toker00 on March 07, 2007 at 09:20:02 PT
I quit Prohibition COLD TURKEY 36 years ago.
This is your War. This is your War on Drugs. ANY QUESTIONS?Toke.
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Comment #6 posted by Toker00 on March 07, 2007 at 09:14:55 PT
Smoke, smoke , smoke that Doobarette
Those cannabinoids nestle right into those CANNABINOID receptors real nicely, don't you thing? Like maybe they are suppose to?!? There is NOTHING unnatural about smoking cannabis. Don't we eat SMOKED food?!? Would that be worse for you than smoking cannabis? There's nothing wrong with making cannabis SAFER by vaporizing it, either. Now vaporized food, I don't know about that.Toke.
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Comment #5 posted by goneposthole on March 07, 2007 at 06:07:02 PT
Time to Quit Prohibition
It doesn't work, no matter what they say.Don't quit smoking cannabis.
That green stuff
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Comment #4 posted by goneposthole on March 07, 2007 at 05:27:38 PT
Quit That
Nervous About Nicotine:  "For an insecticide, nicotine has found some strange uses. Its natural role is to defend tobacco against the creepy-crawlies that would otherwise want to eat the plant. Nicotine is a particularly good poison. It is about the same shape as acetylcholine, a chemical that nerves use to talk to each other. That enables it to slip into nerves and jam their communications, often with fatal results.  Insects die with tiny doses. In people, the lethal quantity is a hefty 60mg - 60 times the amount in an average cigarette. In smaller amounts, its subversive effects on the nervous system can be pleasurable and exceedingly difficult to resist.  It works on the same nerve cells as cocaine. These cells, which inhabit part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, receive their messages in acetylcholine, and forward them in another chemical called dopamine. The next cells in the chain of command (those responding to the dopamine) are the ones that seem to be involved in producing the sensation of pleasure.  Instead of a long continuous high, there is a rush of pleasure followed by a slow decline until the receptors switch back on and the smoker takes the next drag. So nicotine's effects, unlike those of cocaine, are self-regulating, and its effect on behaviour is limited. Hence people are not arrested for smoking and driving.  Drugs are addictive because the body tries to compensate for the false messages they carry.THIS, I think, is an excellent reason to abstain from alcohol as well. Alcohol is a "false" drug - it doesn't augment the body's natural systems, it subverts, then supplants them.  Craving that first cigarette in the morning, and the agitation caused by its denial is the hallmark of withdrawal from dopamine-related addictions.According to Science, smokers show the three classic signs of addiction: they want to quit and can't, they become tolerant, and quitters suffer. (On a gram-for-gram basis, nicotine is 5 to 10 times more effective at producing positive mood changes than amphetamines.)"How many deaths attributed to tobacco addiction world wide?Cannabis hasn't killed anybody. Prohibition has. Nicotine and prohibition are best friends.However, cannabis will kill prohibition.
Quit That
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Comment #3 posted by Had Enough on March 07, 2007 at 04:09:22 PT
Comment #2
I guess this should have been included too.The Disease Mongering Engine is a satirical commentary on various matters we believe to be of public concern and are offered as Free Speech within the protection of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.and....** Any profits earned from the marketing of fictitious diseases generated with this engine must pay a 15% royalty to NewsTarget. Ha!
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Comment #2 posted by Had Enough on March 07, 2007 at 03:41:22 PT
"Disease Mongering Engine,"
Today we bring you the announcement of a hilarious online tool you can use right now to generate fictitious diseases, disorders and dysfunctions. It's called the "Disease Mongering Engine," and it instantly generates disease names that sound similar to the fictitious disorders and syndromes dreamed up by drug companies and modern psychiatry. Try it yourself at: the disease you like? Take these steps to get filthy rich!1.	Patent a dangerous chemical as a "treatment" for MDSD. 2.	Invent fictitious trial results that prove the drug is effective in treating MDSD. 3.	Bribe FDA officials into approving the drug as safe for everyone! (Even if it kills people.) 4.	Submit to the American Psychiatric Association for inclusion in their DSM-IV (the standard reference guide of psychiatric disorders). 5.	Create an emotional TV ad that shows unhappy, confused people being transformed into perfect beings after they take your drug. 6.	Issue press releases to mainstream media outlets who will run your propaganda as news with zero skepticism. 7.	Bribe doctors with vacations, extravagant meals and "consulting fees" in order to get them to prescribe your drug to as many patients as possible. 8.	Buy off politicians and legislators to block alternative medicine and enforce a pharmaceutical monopoly. 9.	Sit back and rake in the dough** while Americans go broke buying your drug to treat MDSD! 10.	When the lawsuits roll in from the families of dead patients, simply use a small portion of your windfall profits to settle out of court, admitting no guilt.
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on March 06, 2007 at 22:20:12 PT
Minnesota, More Desperate Rear-Guard Action 
Meanwhile the voices of reform contine to inform: CN BC: OPED: Recreational Drugs Should Be Legalized, Prince George Citizen, (03 Mar 2007) Laurie Cook, MD US TX: 'Dr. No' [Ron Paul] May Say Yes To Run For White House, San Antonio Express-News,
(04 Mar 2007) BC: PUB LTE: UN Ignores Drug Lords While Targeting Insite,
Vancouver Sun, (06 Mar 2007) Alan Herbert,
Vancouver city councillor when the four-pillars proposal for the supervised injection site came ... for consideration UK: Editorial: Our Failed Drugs Policy Has To Change,
Daily Telegraph, (05 Mar 2007)
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