Stillwater approves drug paraphernalia ban, on forefront of war against glass pipes

Stillwater's pot smokers may soon have to resort to punching holes in Coke cans.
Stillwater's pot smokers may soon have to resort to punching holes in Coke cans.

Last night, the Stillwater City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would ban drug paraphernalia in the city.

The ordinance, which needs to be approved at a council meeting next month following a second reading before becoming law, bans "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.

Said Mayor Ken Harycki: "We don't want [those things] in our city."

There isn't a head shop in Stillwater, but the city's one tobacco shop, Stillwater Tobacco, sells products, including glass pipes, that "at times resemble a head shop," said Police Chief John Gannaway.

State statute prohibits the use, possession, delivery, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia, but doesn't precisely define what constitutes "drug paraphernalia." As a result, smoke and head shops throughout the state typically sell glass pipes and bongs with impunity.

But the city of Moorhead recently approved a more restrictive ordinance banning the sale of glass pipes and bongs, and that law withstood a challenge in U.S. District Court. The Stillwater ordinance models Moorhead's.

Mayor Harycki said the impetus for Stillwater's new ordinance came after a tobacco store with the name 'Roll Your Own Tobacco' applied for a license to open in the city a few months ago. When the application came before the city council, council's reaction was, "If that's an indication of what's going on, let's table this [application] and talk to the police chief to see how we're protected against head shops and things like that," Harycki said.

Much to the mayor's surprise, it turned out the city didn't have much protection at all. Said Harycki: "I would've thought there was a state law."

But Randall Tigue, an attorney representing the owner of Stillwater Tobacco, recently told the Pioneer Press that he doesn't think Stillwater's ordinance, if it becomes law, will withstand a legal challenge.

Tigue suggested that one man's marijuana bowl is another's tobacco pipe -- an ambiguity that makes enforcing the ordinance problematic.

"What [cities like Moorhead and Stillwater] have done is gone in and said, 'If you sell any of these pipes, we're going to bust you for it, regardless if you have intent.'"

"That, I don't think, is supported by the plain language of the ordinance," he added.

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