Pubdate: Tue, 14 Apr 2009
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Nick Martin
Bookmark: (Paraphernalia)


Want City Council To Take Action

A drug paraphernalia shop about to open a block away from St. James 
Collegiate and George Waters Middle School has school trustees 
imploring city council to keep drug-related businesses away from schools.

St. James-Assiniboia School Division has asked city council to review 
its bylaws and regulations "to prevent drug paraphernalia businesses 
from establishing in proximity to schools."

The business will open next week on Portage Avenue just east of Ferry Road.

"We were voicing a concern about it being so close to a school," said 
superintendent Ron Weston.

St. James-Assiniboia school board chairman Peter Carney said Monday 
one trustee reported the store has already been open at least once, 
after school let out on a weekday, and appeared to have attracted a 
considerable crowd of young people.

Carney has had a look at the store, commonly known as a "head shop."

"I could see there were two joints" depicted on the window, he said. 
"There's drug paraphernalia at either end" of the store's name.

Carney said St. James-Assiniboia regularly suspends students for 
marijuana possession.

"We've had a large number of students, not just from St. James 
Collegiate, but all the high schools, caught with marijuana. It's 
getting worse.

"Caught in possession, or smoking openly on the parking lot," Carney 
said. "We can suspend these kids, but it's a holiday for them, they 
don't care."

It was St. James-Assiniboia that last month failed to get support 
from other school boards for its request that the province raise the 
drinking age to 19.

The division's plea recalls a controversy that led to city council's 
legislating in early 1993 that no adults-only video shops could open 
closer than 305 metres to a school or home.

Council, however, could not make that rule retroactive.

The new shop is called La Mota -- which Internet references make 
clear is slang for marijuana -- and sports pictures on its facade of 
scales and a pipe, as well as a large sign saying it will open April 
20. That day, commonly known as 4/20, has become a counterculture 
holiday on which people gather to smoke marijuana publicly.

The store's 4/20 sign is written in puffs of smoke, and the '/' is 
depicted by a lit cigarette, which some observers might interpret as a joint.

The blinds are drawn, but displays and racks of T-shirts, bottles and 
pipes can be seen through the door.

A call to La Mota's answering machine was not returned Monday.

The shop is also relatively close to Linwood and Assiniboine schools, 
but is virtually kitty corner to St. James Collegiate and George 
Waters Middle School.

There is no indication on the storefront of its hours of operation.

Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James), chair of council's property and 
development committee, said he's seen the shop and shares trustees' 
concerns, though he was not about to take any immediate action.

"There's a concern with one of these stores, with bongs, so close to 
a school," Fielding said.

"I don't disagree with what they're (trustees) saying at all."

Fielding said council is reviewing its zoning bylaw later this year, 
and that's the time for St. James-Assiniboia school trustees and 
others to voice their concerns.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom