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Hits from the bong March 21, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Crime, DeKalb.
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Perusing the Northern Star today I came across, Tobacco shops, police at odds with sale of pipes.

Well, I didn’t just come across it, I knew it was coming for a couple weeks, but didn’t really want to usurp the Star, so I waited until they said something.

Essentially, the DeKalb Police Department is trying to eliminate the sale of glass pipes that they traditionally identify as drug paraphernalia using the Illinois Drug Parephenalia Control Act.

From DeKalb PD Lt. Jim Kayes in the Northern Star:

“If owners want to continue selling these glass pipes, I guarantee you I’ll be back to seize them.”

Of course, it is ridiculous to assume glass pipes are specifically meant for ingesting methamphetimine or cannabis. These items can have a perfectly legitimate use. And the law itself as much as acknowledges this, even if the DeKalb Police refuse to. These businesses are perfectly legitimate.

The law leaves the definition of drug parephenalia purposely vague, and wide open to broad interpretation.

From the Illinois Drug Parephrenalia Control Act:(emphasis added on especially vague wording)

(1) kits intended to be used unlawfully in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing or preparing cannabis or a controlled substance;

(2) isomerization devices intended to be used unlawfully in increasing the potency of any species of plant which is cannabis or a controlled substance;

(3) testing equipment intended to be used unlawfully in a private home for identifying or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of cannabis or controlled substances;

(4) diluents and adulterants intended to be used unlawfully for cutting cannabis or a controlled substance by private persons;

(5) objects intended to be used unlawfully in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into the human body including, where applicable, the following items:

(A) water pipes;
(B) carburetion tubes and devices;
(C) smoking and carburetion masks;
(D) miniature cocaine spoons and cocaine vials;
(E) carburetor pipes;
(F) electric pipes;
(G) air‑driven pipes;
(H) chillums;
(I) bongs;
(J) ice pipes or chillers;

(6) any item whose purpose, as announced or described by the seller, is for use in violation of this Act.

It would seem the two sections near the end, “where applicable,” and #6 leave this law to allow the sale of the items listed so long as their announced use by the seller remains legitimate.

Here is what Lt. Kayes said about “one-hitters:”

“We go by what is customary usage, and these are usually used for dope.”

Perhaps law should rule and not tradition, Mr. Kayes. The law itself says traditional and historical use is NOT the sole factor to be used when determining the legitamacy of the items being marketed.

From the Illinois Drug Parephrenalia Control Act:

In determining whether or not a particular item is exempt under this subsection, the trier of fact should consider, in addition to all other logically relevant factors, the following:

(1) the general, usual, customary, and historical use to which the item involved has been put;

(2) expert evidence concerning the ordinary or customary use of the item and the effect of any peculiarity in the design or engineering of the device upon its functioning;

(3) any written instructions accompanying the delivery of the item concerning the purposes or uses to which the item can or may be put;

(4) any oral instructions provided by the seller of the item at the time and place of sale or commercial delivery;

(5) any national or local advertising concerning the design, purpose or use of the item involved, and the entire context in which such advertising occurs;

(6) the manner, place and circumstances in which the item was displayed for sale, as well as any item or items displayed for sale or otherwise exhibited upon the premises where the sale was made;

(7) whether the owner or anyone in control of the object is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products;

(8) the existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community.

The law cited includes exemptions to the act, items which can be sold.

From the Act (exemptions): (again)

(b) Items historically and customarily used in connection with, the planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, or inhaling of tobacco or any other lawful substance.

As for Kayes’ “one-hitter” opinion, I must disagree, I myself have used such a device to ingest tobacco. So he is just plain wrong. This crackdown also flies right in the face of the “bohemian atmosphere” oft cited by specific city officials, namely Paul Rasmussen.

Even if the police succeed in this quest it will ultimately be left up to the State’s Attorney and the judicial branch per the law.

Either way it seems like an anti-business, (specifically locally owned businesses), move by the DeKalb PD. A shop like Huka Corner, which sells a few glass pipes, is clearly selling only tobacco products. Their shop centers around tobacco. How could it be assumed that the pipes they sell to their customers are for cannabis? Seems like a jump. While these pipes are used for illegal purposes they are not always used for those illegal purposes.

Regardless, even removing these pipes from the shelves is nothing more than an arbitrary targeting of a specific type of business.

I could get a cheap “tobacco pipe” at Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s and just as easily use it to smoke cannabis or meth as I could with the glass pipes. Is Wal-Mart being targeted? Of course not. Only shops that Lt. Kayes and his cohorts think potheads frequent are targeted.

When you assume, it only makes an ass of u and me. Lt. Kayes would do well to remember that cliche.

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Comments»

1. Glock21 - March 22, 2006

I’m not a big drug-war proponent by any means, but c’mon now…

Glass pipes for tabacco…

One hitters for tabacco…

Bongs for tabacco…

Sure some potheads may have tried it just out of boredom once or twice, but that’s hardly the intended purpose of the devices, even when the purpose is blatantly lied about in order to sell them (barely) legally.

The law you cited is indeed vague and I think you can agree that depending on how one interprets it that one could consider bongs, bowls, one-hitters, etc to either meet the requirements or not.

Since the law is vague the next best step to determine legality is to look at case law. Any appeals court or even Supreme Court decisions out of Illinois that consider the meaning of the laws in question.

That might be the best route considering admitted vagueness of the statutes themselves.

It’s not really a big stretch for law enforcement to consider these items to be covered considering that vagueness and the obvious actual use of the items, even if some hippy once actually smoked tobacco in one once when he was bored.

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