Pubdate: Wed, 22 Apr 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts, Times Colonist


Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is looking for ways to shut down sales
of convenience store items that can be used to make a crack pipe.

At a meeting earlier this week, Desjardins led a charge of her council
to look for ways to stop the sale of glass tubes, steel wool by the
chunk and baking soda, all items used in the smoking of crack.

After the meeting, she said there may be little the municipality can
do but by discussing the issue, people may come on side and
voluntarily stop selling the items.

"There is nothing to stop people from selling those things because
they are all legal items," she said. "We may not be able to do
anything through a bylaw.

"But public awareness and businesses being part of the solution, as
opposed to being part of the problem, is what I want to push forward."

She said she was alarmed when she first learned of the wide sale of
the glass tubes, normally featured with little flowers inside. A store
owner selling the tubes also told her he was selling steel wool in
small pieces and that the baking soda he stocks is kept behind the
counter because it was routinely stolen.

Desjardins said she was not impressed when the store owner told her if
he didn't sell the drug kit ingredients, somebody else would.

"I don't want to see those items sold in stores and not in stores
close to schools," said Desjardins. "I will be speaking with the
business community on this."

Councillors also heard from Victoria Police Insp. Les Sylven, who told
them police have few options since laws don't prohibit the sale of
these items. But Sylven agreed to supply a report on the items that
are quickly and easily turned into drug-ingestion gear.

Other drug paraphernalia routinely sold includes cigarette rolling
papers and the products and substances that can quickly be turned into
a kit for making methamphetamine.

But the crack pipe fixings are the most notable, said

"This is the thing that within five minutes of buying it, they are
using it," said Sylven.

Outside the meeting, Sylven said some U.S. cities have come down on
the sale of glass tubes and steel wool with bylaws, but he wasn't sure
how successful the tactic has been.

Street-level health groups, like AIDS Vancouver Island, are already
distributing the makings of crack pipes in limited numbers. The
Vancouver Island Health Authority also supports the distribution of
crack pipes as a way of minimizing the spread of infectious diseases,
most notably hepatitis C and tuberculosis, but is not actively
pursuing the practice. Suzanne Germain, spokeswoman for VIHA, said her
organization is committed to only distributing these items if the
local municipality is in support. 
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