Hudson police raid smoke shop, confiscate all glass pipes as "drug paraphernalia"

There must be something about the waters of the St. Croix River that make authorities really paranoid about glass pipes.

Earlier this month, we told you about a new Stillwater ordinance that broadly defines "drug paraphernalia" as "objects used, intended for use, or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled substances," including glass pipes, water pipes, roach clips, and chillums. Selling any such object is a misdemeanor, possessing them a petty misdemeanor.

Now comes news that Hudson Police yesterday raided Left of Center, an adult entertainment and smoke shop downtown, and confiscated the store's entire collection of glass pipes as "drug paraphernalia."

Officers seized 25 glass pipes and ticketed Left of Center's owners $240 for each of them for a total fine of $6,000. The owners intend to challenge the citations in court.

Hudson Patch reports that the raid comes on the heels of Hudson police deciding to change the way the city's drug paraphernalia ordinance is enforced. No longer does an object like a glass pipe need to be found along with a controlled substance to be considered paraphernalia -- now, the pipe itself is illegal.

St. Croix sisters Stillwater and Hudson represent the frontline of the war on glass pipes.
St. Croix sisters Stillwater and Hudson represent the frontline of the war on glass pipes.

Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen said he decided to change the way his department enforces the ordinance after learning that the city of Moorhead has gotten away with criminalizing unused glass pipes. Before that point, "we were always under the assumption that the pipe hadn't been used, it wasn't considered drug paraphernalia," Jensen told Patch.

The ultimate goal, Jensen said, is to reduce drug use in Hudson.

"Obviously we have a drug problem here in town," Jensen said. "With our limited resources, we can only do so much. If we can slow down people's ability to get drug paraphernalia, hopefully we're slowing down some of the drug use that's going on."

But Andrew Nelson, a lawyer representing Left of Center's Minnesota-based owners, said Hudson police are overreaching, adding that he doesn't think the citations will withstand a legal challenge.

"I don't think the court is going to say, 'The Hudson PD says that this is drug paraphernalia, so it is, and you're guilty,'" Nelson said. "Everybody knows that these items are not drug paraphernalia until someone adds the drug element to it... What they're trying to do is issue citations on the chance that somebody could use these for an illicit purpose, [but] we have different laws in this country for that purpose."

Related coverage:
-- Stillwater drug paraphernalia ban becomes law, lawyer promises court challenge
-- Stillwater approves drug paraphernalia ban, on forefront of war against glass pipes

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