Opponents of a Washington, D.C., bill that proposes a ban on single-cigar sales will get the chance to voice their concerns at a hearing scheduled for the end of the month.
The bill's intention is to reduce marijuana use by amending the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to ban the selling of "single cigar products." These products are broadly defined as an "individual cigar, cigar leaf wrapper, flavored or non-flavored cigar that is referred to as a blunt, blunt wrap, or any other tobacco product that may be used in the ingesting, inhaling, or introduction of marijuana to the human body."
In essence, the bill looks to combat the act of "blunting," or replacing the tobacco filler in a cigar with marijuana. However, to the chagrin of cigar store shop owners, the bill's language does not attempt to distinguish cheap blunts from premium, handmade cigars.
"It's scary because it's open ended," said John Anderson, owner of W. Curtis Draper, a tobacconist located in Washington, D.C. Anderson plans to meet with his council representative before attending the public hearing.
Glynn Loope, executive director of the Cigar Rights of America, opposes the bill and believes it highlights the importance of the need to create a better legal definition for cigars.
"It is very, very bothersome that premium cigars could even be included in a bill like that," said Loope.
Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers, went a step further, blasting the proposal in a press release.
"The bottom line is that this is bad legislation that won't do what it is intended to do — stop the use of marijuana. The only thing it will do is irreparable harm to owners of cigar stores, their employees and loyal customers who enjoy premium cigars," he said.
David Berkebile, owner of Georgetown Tobacco, believes tobacconists have a good chance to defeat the bill, but he still plans to fight it at the public hearing.
"I'll be meeting with Jack Evans, our councilman, beforehand. He has been supportive of our business in the past," said Berkebile.
The meeting is set for September 29 at 10 a.m.
By Andrew Nagy
September 9, 2009