Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2014
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Andrew Philips
Page: A3


'It's not marijuana that's the gateway drug; it's tobacco,' health
unit official tells board

Mom-and-pop convenience stores have become the main battleground in
the drug paraphernalia war, a health unit official says.

"This isn't the United States, where drug paraphernalia is very
regulated in the way it's sold," Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
tobacco program supervisor Martin Kuhn told the Orillia Police
Services Board Tuesday.

Kuhn said traditional head shops, such as Happy Dayz, have backed off
of tobacco sales due to enforcement regulations, meaning smaller
convenience stores are now where youth view bongs and pipes on display
and readily available for purchase.

It is illegal to sell tobacco and rolling papers to someone younger
than 19, but nothing prohibits the sale of drug-related items.

Following Kuhn's presentation, the board passed a motion recommending
OPP work with the health unit next year to explore options to restrict
and control the display and sale of drug paraphernalia.

Coun. Patrick Kehoe, who sits on the board, said smaller stores are
slipping through regulatory cracks when it comes to drug paraphernalia
sales to minors because they remain a secondary item sold alongside
pop, chips and chocolate bars.

"Maybe it'd be best to have them out of sight, out of mind," he said,
noting drug paraphernalia could be hidden behind counters the way
tobacco products are now sold at stores across the province.

Kuhn said the problem won't be solved overnight since drugs and drug
paraphernalia remain a profound issue, but he said the issue could be
tackled with similar enforcement techniques used to curb tobacco sales.

"It's not marijuana that's the gateway drug; it's tobacco because it
conditions young lungs and provides a slight high," Kuhn said. "A
bylaw won't work within a year, but long-term, it could work."
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