POLICE TARGET DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
Rockmart's City Council approved an ordinance last week designed to crack down on "drug paraphernalia" being sold by local businesses.
That discussion, along with a proposed fireworks ordinance, took up much of a lengthy mayor and council meeting on June 14.
City officials said an ordinance is needed to strengthen existing regulations regarding drug paraphernalia -- products associated with illegal drugs use -- as well as items that mimic marijuana. A draft of the drug paraphernalia ordinance was presented for consideration.
Noted was the fact that the use of marijuana, cocaine, crack, ice, methamphetamine and other illicit controlled substances are highly addictive and are associated with serious health conditions.
Officials pointed out that the number of crimes reported to local law enforcement and their relationship to drug use as a contributing factor has increased annually throughout Polk County, Rockmart and Northwest Georgia. And, the sale and manufacturing of drug-related products entices and influences young teens and adults in the promotion of illegal use by affording an opportunity to purchase items such as Chronic Candy (with flavoring meant to mimic marijuana), "reefer" papers, glass tubes, oversized butane lighters and other products that police said have no specific use other than to promote illicit behavior.
John Adams, deputy chief, Rockmart Police Department, said he was concerned that Chronic Candy could be placed in a container with a clear wrapper and no markings. "Any unsuspecting grandparent could come into a store and grab one," he said. After debate and deliberation, the ordinance was adopted pending final review by Mike McRae, city attorney.
City Manager Jeff Ellis commented on the draft fireworks ordinance, which he said was recommended by Fire Chief Todd Queen. He reminded the group of recent legislation that now allows the sale of sparklers in Georgia. "The original purpose of the ban on sale of fireworks was to keep these items out of the hands of unskilled users and to prevent injury or death," Ellis said. Councilman Bruce Bell questioned the reason for the ordinance and said he was not certain it was needed. He also asked about the position taken by Cedartown and Polk County fire departments and officials.
Queen expressed concern that local businesses would soon have sparklers on sale -- not single sticks but large non-aerial bombs. He said these would send sparks everywhere and he considers them a safety hazard. "As firefighters, we have life safety concerns for children," he said. "I also worry that with sparks going everywhere, we would have difficulty controlling situations during the no burn ban. "I believe there will be a problem and you won't just see the small sparklers but the larger ones." Councilman Ray Carter said he would rather see the ordinance address public gatherings such as Homespun or a large recreation event. The ordinance would prohibit any combustible or explosive composition, including blank cartridges, balloons requiring fire underneath to propel them, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles, bombs, sparklers and other combustibles and explosives of like construction. Action was delayed until more information can be gathered. However, Councilman Bob Culver encouraged the group not "to forget it."
In other business, Council: Approved a rebate to basic tier service subscribers with Falcon Communities Ventures I, LP. The company "shall issue refunds, totaling $240,436.84 to subscribers, representing that portion of previously paid rates, plus interest, paid by subscribers for the basic tier determined to exceed the maximum permitted rates. This refund will be issued in the form of a one-time credit to subscriber bills within 60 days of the effective date of the agreement." Voted in favor of contracts for two work details (Georgia Department of Corrections). Each contract totals $37,500, which provides a crew of eight to ten individuals for 48 weeks each year. Approved the Georgia Power Franchise Agreement and an Interim Budget for FY2006.