Pubdate: Wed, 25 May 2005
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2005 The Modesto Bee
Author: John Holland


Council Asked To Ban Sale Of What Resident Says Is Drug Paraphernalia

TURLOCK -- City Council members examined a handblown glass pipe Tuesday 
night and debated whether it was a threat to public order.

The council considered a request by Turlock resident Linda Taylor to ban 
the sale of such pipes on the grounds that they could be used to smoke 

"I believe that drug paraphernalia sales are not welcome here and should 
not be here," she said.

But Jason Lombardo, owner of the smoke shop that sells several pipes 
examined by the council, said they have a legitimate use.

"Everything is for tobacco use that I sell," said Lombardo, owner of 
Smoking Jays in downtown Turlock and a similar store in Merced. "If an 
adult purchases it and uses it for something illegal, I can't control that."

The council voted 5-0 to have city staff look into ways to deal with the 
devices, possibly through zoning rules that specify where and how they 
could be sold. The matter will be brought back to the council at a time yet 
to be determined.

Taylor, a leader in the successful drive to build a Turlock skate park, now 
has taken on drug abuse. She proposed a state bill, still awaiting action, 
that would increase penalties for adults who use illegal drugs in the 
presence of children under their care.

Taylor said that, under current law, pipes can be sold if the stores tell 
customers they are intended for tobacco. This "loophole" is allowing adults 
to buy marijuana-smoking devices, sometimes to give to young people, she said.

The ban would apply to numerous products involved in the production, 
refinement and use of illegal drugs. These range from bongs, a type of pipe 
that passes smoke through a water chamber, to cocaine spoons and drug 
injection supplies.

Councilman Kurt Vander Weide, who helped Taylor gather information about 
items available in Turlock, said the pipes are clearly for use with marijuana.

Lombardo said water-filled pipes filter much of the carcinogens in tobacco 
smoke and are prominent in Middle Eastern cultures. He said some of the 
pipes are sought by nonsmoking collectors because of their beauty.

Lombardo likened the proposed ban to holding a car dealer responsible for 
speeding by a buyer of one of the vehicles.

A friend of his, Zach Folkes, said it would be like blaming a sporting 
goods store if someone uses a baseball bat in a beating.

Lombardo said no one has complained about his store to police, a point 
Police Chief Lonald Lott confirmed. The chief visited Smoking Jays before 
Tuesday's meeting to borrow samples of the pipes for the council to see.

Lott said a ban could be hard to enforce because of tight police staffing 
and the need to concentrate on methamphetamine and other major threats.

Councilman John Lazar, while agreeing to have the staff look into Taylor's 
request, suggested another tack in fighting drugs.

"Parenting is more important -- discussing things with your children, the 
ramifications of having this stuff," he said.
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