Pubdate: Sat, 19 Nov 2005
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (MA)
Copyright: 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Author: Jack  Encarnacao
Bookmark: (Paraphernalia)


One Police Department Responds By Seizing Items Linked To Drugs

A police raid targeting the sale of bongs, scales and pipes from a
Pembroke smoke shop may be the first in a countywide crackdown on
paraphernalia that authorities say is clearly used for doing illegal
drugs. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said he recently
told every police department in the county to get serious about
charging store owners who sell blunt wrappers, pipes or other products
that are commonly used to smoke marijuana and use other drugs.

" I think this is something that should be taken seriously," Cruz said in an
interview. "Some of the things I think are way over bounds. The items are
being  used as a means to an illegal end." The state drug law punishes any
person who sells drug paraphernalia knowing, or under circumstances where
one reasonably should know, that it will  be used to ... introduce into the
human body a controlled substance. Those who violate the law can be
imprisoned for up to two years and fined $500 to $5,000.

Pembroke police said they plan to file a criminal complaint against
the owner of Brennan's Smoke Shop, Karen Brennan Fontana, after they
seized seven boxes of  what they called illegal drug paraphernalia
from her Route 139 shop Wednesday. Fontana, who has been in business
for nearly 15 years, argues that she is unfairly being held responsible for
what customers do with her products once they leave her store.

To that end, the state's drug paraphernalia laws were strengthened
in 1997 in large part because of the efforts of Hanover Police Chief
Paul Hayes, who went  to the Legislature with examples of
paraphernalia found in his town. His demonstrations resulted in a law
that prohibited the sale of anything primarily intended for drug use. The
key, Hayes said, "is that primarily intended is defined as the - likely use
which may be ascribed to an item by a  reasonable person." Hayes said this
standard makes it easier to prosecute owners because a jury will readily
identify a water pipe as drug paraphernalia despite its other possible uses.

(Owners) can't tell us in these stores that they don't know what they're
being used for," Hayes said. "We've already been through that with the
Legislature." Hayes said the law is clear: Sell something you know will be
used for drugs, and face prosecution.

"These store owners are just preying on someone else's misery," he said.
"They know what these items are being used for." In 1996 and 1997, Hanover
police raided the Psych-o-delic Emporium Too and seized hundreds of items
they alleged to be drug paraphernalia. In October 1998, a district court
judge fined the owners after finding evidence that they stocked and sold
drug paraphernalia. The store later closed.

Hayes has since applied even more pressure by sending letters to smoke shops
and convenience stores in Hanover that sell anything like blunt cigar
wrappers  or cigarette rolling papers. The stores are asked to remove the
items. All complied. If hadn't, they would have faced prosecution, Hayes
said. "Blunt wrappers are used exclusively for the purpose of smoking a
combination of marijuana ... and cigar tobacco, the letters read. You also
sell cigarette rolling papers, while not illegal, certainly can be noted as
used almost exclusively for smoking marijuana. Though some, including
Fontana, say the papers could just as easily be used to roll tobacco,
officials say there is no ambiguity about their purpose. "Quite honestly,
there's really no other use for those items," District Attorney Cruz said.
"I don't think anyone's rolling cigarettes in those." Rolling papers were
not seized in Wednesday's Pembroke raid. Police Chief Gregory Wright said
that was because it's harder to prove that a store owner knows they are used
to smoke drugs.

State law says that wherever tobacco rolling papers are sold, the
owner of the store must display in a prominent place a warning that
such papers shall not  be used in conjunction with a controlled
substance. A store owner who fails to  post the warning can be fined
up to $200.

Not all Plymouth County communities have made paraphernalia a priority. The
original Brennan's Smoke Shop has been on Main Street in Plymouth for 14
years.  Police there are not planning any investigation of the store's
products. "We don't have anything working right now with the smoke shops,"
Capt. Michael Botieri said. "We don't just do things based on what other
towns  do."
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