USA: Drug Paraphernalia Act bans pipes and bongs in headshops

Discussion in 'Cannabis paraphernalia' started by Alfa, Mar 3, 2004.

  1. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    RALEIGH -- Just about every college town in America has stores that
    openly sell marijuana pipes and other accessories that everyone knows
    can be put to illegal use. Now federal authorities in North Carolina
    have waded into what many thought was a gray area of the law by
    cracking down on head shops. On Monday, Frank D. Whitney, the U.S.
    attorney for central and Eastern North Carolina, announced that
    federal, state and local agents raided six businesses last week to
    launch "Operation Pipecleaner."

    Officers seized nearly 3,800 glass and metal pipes, along with rolling
    papers and other items from four stores in the Triangle on Thursday,
    court records show. Two of the stores are next to N.C. State
    University. Agents said they also raided two stores near the
    UNC-Wilmington campus and hauled away paraphernalia.

    The operation in the Triangle has been going on for three

    "Drug paraphernalia distributors legitimize the use of drugs by
    selling through public retail establishments but acting deliberately
    ignorant of the use of paraphernalia devices," Whitney said at a news
    conference. "Most importantly and most frightening, drug paraphernalia
    distributors prey on impressionable youth, targeting universities and
    high schools and distributing through the Internet."

    The local seizures were at Buddha's Belly, 2112 Hillsborough St.,
    Raleigh; Snap Dragons, 2526 Hillsborough St., Raleigh; Rock 'N' Roll
    Outlet, 3601 Capital Blvd., Raleigh; and Rock-N-Roll Village, 2808-B
    U.S. 70 West, Clayton. In Wilmington, Buddha's Belly, 830 S. Kerr
    Ave., and Expressions, 419 S. College Road, were also raided.

    Owners Could Be Cited

    No one was arrested, but Whitney said store owners could be charged.
    Three of the store owners or managers in Raleigh declined to comment;
    the fourth couldn't be reached.

    Drew Skidmore, co-owner of Expressions, said the store has been in
    Wilmington about six years and had the permission of local law
    enforcement to sell its pipes.

    "We market them for tobacco; we don't want them to be used [for
    drugs]," he said. "But I don't know how you can really control that."

    Skidmore said it wasn't fair to say the store was trying to lure
    children to buy pipes just because it also sells skateboards. "They
    sell candy in convenience stores," he said. "I don't know where you
    draw the line."

    Whitney said the operation sends a message that the merchandise is not
    legal, even though it's sold openly.

    He also said he wants to warn youth that marijuana is typically six or
    seven times more potent than it used to be, leads to harder drugs and
    is a health hazard. He added that most of the marijuana sold in North
    Carolina is no longer grown locally but comes from drug cartels from
    Latin America.

    Whitney said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a directive
    last year, urging federal prosecutors to target drug users.

    Congress in 1986 made it a felony to mail paraphernalia, and in 1990
    made it illegal to sell or offer for sale pipes that are primarily
    used to ingest drugs. The law defines specific kinds of pipes. There
    is no state law that could be used.

    Kris Krane, associate director of the National Organization to Reform
    Marijuana Laws, said Monday in a phone interview from Washington,
    D.C., that the North Carolina crackdown is new.

    He said the Justice Department has prosecuted large paraphernalia
    makers and online distributors but hasn't gone after head shops on
    such an organized level.

    "It's an utter and complete waste of money," Krane said. "We're
    talking about busting businessmen here, not street dealers. ... This
    is a relatively new development and a scary one."

    Store Closes

    On Monday, one of the stores, Snap Dragons, was closed. Empty display
    cases could be seen through the dark glass windows. Agents reported
    seizing more than 800 pipes from the store.

    Down the street, Buddha's Belly remained open despite the loss of more
    than 640 pipes, which were only a small part of the store's business.
    It also sells skateboards, clothes and other merchandise.

    Paul Newby, the assistant U.S. attorney who coordinated the
    investigation, said mixing merchandise is a concern to

    "The owners of drug paraphernalia businesses glamorize drug use by
    stocking drug paraphernalia along with clothing, posters and other
    items, such as skateboards, that are attractive to young adults," Newby said.

    Whitney said that the government will continue to concentrate on drug
    traffickers, but that will be easier if authorities can also reduce
    the demand for illegal drugs.

    "We have to draw the line somewhere," Whitney said. "Let's draw it at
    drug paraphernalia, because it's so blatantly illegal."
  2. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

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    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands
    I wonder why the US government is not worried that they are becoming the laugh of the rest of the world, by doing more and more utter stupid things and declaring "facts"that have been proven to be not only wrong, but excactly the opposite decades ago.
  3. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands
    You would almost think that the US government has nothing better to do. No real treath to worry about.
  4. argovistov

    argovistov Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Here in Sweden a couple of years ago one got 4 years for selling pipes and cannabis seeds. Both are legal here, but the combination was regarded as preparations for crime since it is illegal to use narcotics.
  5. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    To confiscate marijuana-smoking gadgets sold openly in two Wilmington
    stores apparently required law-enforcement officers from the federal, state
    and local levels.

    Led by John Ashcroft's U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Frank
    D. Whitney, intrepid officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement
    Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the State Bureau of
    Investigation, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department and the
    Wilmington Police Department somehow managed to detect the presence of
    dopey paraphernalia and seize it, from stores here and in Raleigh.

    It was as if the massed forces of Eliot Ness had busted one of Al Capone's
    speakeasies and confiscated the little umbrellas that went in the tropical

    Of course, photos and video footage of cheesy smoke dispensers would look
    good in campaign commercials, and probably will.

    Americans are threatened by terrorists trying to murder us and destroy our
    free institutions. We're threatened by killer drugs such as
    methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. And to be sure, it's said that the
    marijuana on sale these days is much more powerful than the weed some
    adults remember (or think they do) from their hippy-dippy days.

    But terrorists and drug dealers are hard to find and convict. Retail clerks
    whose dubious wares are on brazen display don't present quite so difficult
    a challenge.

    Fortunately, no officers were harmed in the making of this media event.
  6. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    Officers Seize Stores' Drug Paraphernalia

    Authorities Aim To Make Items Scarce

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The federal government is going on the offensive
    against drug paraphernalia, seizing pipes and other items from half a dozen
    stores in eastern North Carolina.

    Federal prosecutors said Monday the searches and seizures are the first in
    a new campaign designed to make it harder to find materials that could
    entice teenagers to begin smoking marijuana.

    "The distribution of drug paraphernalia is a federal felony," U.S. Attorney
    Frank Whitney said at a news conference in Raleigh. "If we can cut down on
    the demand for drugs, it will make our jobs easier."

    Federal, state and local agents participated in Feb. 26 searches of four
    Wake County and two Wilmington businesses as part of "Operation
    Pipecleaner." They recovered decorative and brightly colored bongs, as well
    as "roach" clips and miniature spoons.

    These kinds of items are defined in federal law as drug paraphernalia, and
    someone selling or trying to sell them can receive up to three years in
    prison, face fines and have ot forfeit the cited goods.

    No charges have been filed against the owners or employees at the six
    stores, but criminal counts are possible. The investigation and operation
    are continuing, Whitney said.

    Federal and local officials defended their campaign against retailers.

    After years of continuing efforts to convict drug suppliers, Whitney said
    Washington asked that local U.S. attorney come up with ways to reduce the
    demand for drugs.

    Marijuana is often labeled as a gateway drug because people who smoke it
    are many times more likely to use heavier drugs such as heroin and cocaine,
    according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    In the past, much of the marijuana smoked in North Carolina was grown
    in-state. Now, more of the drug is coming aboard tractor-trailers from
    Mexico and Central America and contains higher amounts of marijuana's
    active chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

    "The marijuana of 2004 is not your parents' marijuana, if they experimented
    with it," Whitney said.

    Keeping paraphernalia farther away from high-school or college students
    should help discourage experimentation, the operation coordinator said.

    "The message is, 'The gateway is closed,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul
    Newby said. "No more tickets will be sold."

    In February 2003, federal authorities charged 55 people with trafficking in
    illegal drug paraphernalia in an investigation they said targeted the
    nation's biggest Internet distributors of bongs, crack pipes and other
    gear. At the time, White House drug czar John Walters said, "This is a
    devastating blow to the drug paraphernalia business."

    Although Newby declined to discuss the specific stores in North Carolina
    that were searched, he said many outlets sell drug paraphernalia alongside
    skateboards and clothing.

    Agents seized items at Buddha's Belly stores in Raleigh and Wilmington;
    Snap Dragons and the Rock 'n' Roll Outlet in Raleigh; Rock 'n' Roll Village
    in Clayton; and Expressions in Wilmington.

    Drew Skidmore, the co-owner of Expressions, said the store talked to local
    law enforcement to ensure that their sales inventory was legal. He was
    surprised by the federal search.

    "If they didn't want to us sell the stuff, they could have just sent us a
    letter," Skidmore said. The items Expressions sells are intended solely for
    tobacco or legal herbs, he said.

    Skidmore questioned the point of singling out the six stores. "You can
    smoke illegal drugs out of any pipe in the world," he said.

    Police can charge paraphernalia vendors in state court, but there is no
    specific count against paraphernalia sales.

    A person who identified himself as the manager at Buddha's Belly said
    agents removed items from about 20 percent of his store but declined
    further comment. Attempts to reach the other businesses were not successful.
  7. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    At least one local mom feels pipes and bongs shouldn't be sold near
    schools, even though store owners insist they never sell to children
    and police say the sales aren't breaking any laws.

    As a mother of two elementary-age children, Kim Bradwell wasn't happy
    when she found pipes, bongs, rolling papers and other items usually
    associated with drug use in corner stores near schools.

    "I'm not sure why they're selling them. They're only contributing to
    our drug problem," Bradwell said of the stores' owners.

    "They're all in neighbourhoods," she exclaimed, citing Tempo Gas,
    Mac's Convenience Store and Kim's Grocery as businesses selling
    marijuana merchandise.

    Kim's Grocery owner Steve Kim insists he won't sell anything to
    children that could be considered drug-related.

    "I have never sold (pipes or bongs) to kids," he insisted.

    "I have kids too, so it's something I won't do."

    Other store owners reiterated Kim's feelings, and at least one said he
    wouldn't sell pipes at all if he didn't need the extra revenue to run
    his business-which costs about $20,000 each month.

    Cpl. Sean Sullivan said pipes-which are usually made of glass, wood,
    stone or metal-and bongs (which use water to cool marijuana smoke)
    aren't considered drug paraphernalia until they're used with an
    illegal substance.

    "Bongs aren't illegal, however, we are well aware of what they're used
    for," Sullivan offered.

    "Once they use them to smoke crack or marijuana it becomes drug

    Bradwell has addressed her concerns to store owners and relies on
    education to keep students informed about the devices she doesn't like.

    "If children go into a store for a slurpee and they see these things
    they're going to have questions. What we've done is we've written to

    schools to let them know what's going on in their neighbourhoods."
  8. sands of time

    sands of time Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Look out, John Ashcroft will have his team of goons over there before you know it.
  9. Insane Asian

    Insane Asian Silver Member

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    May 16, 2004
    that mom is dumber than the one that wanted to take out "in god we trust" from the pledge of alegence..... it just wont happen
  10. Thegreatone

    Thegreatone Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Mar 28, 2004
    a few head shops in my area have stoped selling pipes openly and one even shut down cause of all this bullshit.
  11. KingOfDiamonds

    KingOfDiamonds Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Jun 20, 2004
    from U.S.A.
    It sucks that a few people have to ruin it for everyone<img border="0" src= "smileys/smiley13.gif">
  12. ShadyMilkman

    ShadyMilkman Mercury Member

    Reputation Points:
    Mar 13, 2004
    All the head shops in my area got raided a few months ago. It was crazy, and businesses lost a lot of $$$ in product.
  13. manda

    manda Palladium Member

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    Feb 7, 2004
    At least the D.E.A.'s off us.
  14. searcher

    searcher Gold Member

    Reputation Points:
    Apr 23, 2004
    from Massachusetts, U.S.A.
    "Concerned parents" boycotted the head shop near my 'hood. The place closed.
  15. Insane Asian

    Insane Asian Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    May 16, 2004
    i was in a smoke shop i go to a lot and there were tweaker pipes and said how can they sell these the only thing they are used for is smoking crack and meth, then the entire store got quiet and stared at me. i didnt know i said it as loud as i did cause i was high. how do they sell those pipes legally is my only question. it cant be used for tabaco so how can smoke shops sell them.
  16. airmax95

    airmax95 Newbie

    Reputation Points:
    Jul 4, 2004
    <blockquote> Originally posted by Insane Asian on 04 July 2004<hr>
    i was in a smoke shop i go to a lot and there were tweaker pipes and said how can they sell these the only thing they are used for is smoking crack and meth, then the entire store got quiet and stared at me. i didnt know i said it as loud as i did cause i was high. how do they sell those pipes legally is my only question. it cant be used for tabaco so how can smoke shops sell them.


    That's why they can sell it, because you DON'T MENTION the intended use. Gee, you must be so lit that you don't know what the hell is going on. Don't you notice the sign that says "DO NOT MENTION ILLEGAL DRUG USE." That's why they were staring at you, cause you opened your big stupid, faded, mouth. Even if you whisperd that shit to the guy behind the counter, you would have gotten a stare. I remember one time in Santa Monica, this dumb shit started talking about weed out loud. This huge corn fed mofo behind the counter told him to shut up, but he wouldn't. He almost got his ass beat, his friend had to drag his stupid ass out of the shop.

    They can't stop you from buying it the intended use is not known. As far as getting caught with paraphenilia, I'm not sure about that, I think you can argue your where out if you get caught with just the pipe and it has no resin on it.
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest

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    God, i hope the head shops here dont shut down, i hate ordering online, tax and shipping up the ass
  18. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    Although a recent amendment to Oklahoma's drug laws aims to tighten the
    restrictions on marijuana paraphernalia, some Tahlequah residents feel
    lawmakers might as well just be blowing smoke.

    House Bill 1220, passed by the Senate April 22 and the House of
    Representatives May 6, amends the state's list of illegal drug
    paraphernalia to include "all hidden or novelty pipes," and "any pipe that
    has a tobacco bowl or chamber of less than one-half inch in diameter in
    which there is an detectable residue of any controlled dangerous substance
    as defined in this section or any other substances not legal for possession
    or use."

    The law pertains to not only the actions of the owner of such a pipe, but
    also his or her intent to either use it - or sell it to someone who intends
    to use it - to smoke marijuana.

    The law states, "The innocence of an owner, or of anyone in control of the
    object, as to a direct violation of this act shall not prevent a finding
    that the object is intended for use, or fashioned specifically for use, as
    drug paraphernalia."

    The new act puts even more pressure on novelty shops selling pipes, which -
    ostensibly used to smoke tobacco - can make great pot pipes as well.

    "I had a gut feeling that was coming," said Brandon Hamilton, who, after
    eight years of operating a Tahlequah novelty store called Plumb Krazy,
    closed his doors earlier this year. "The fact of the matter is, in eight
    years, I never had any trouble, but I was getting gray hairs from worrying,
    and I wasn't even doing anything illegal."

    Hamilton said so many regulations - from the local level on up to federal
    laws - pertain to the sale of smoking items, just trying to stay within the
    law made running a novelty store a high-pressure career.

    "For example, if a pipe crossed the state line, it was a federal offense;
    everything had to come from in-state to be legal," said Hamilton, who's
    also a professional photographer. "If the feds had come in, all the
    pictures of bands I had in there, all the pictures of my brother riding
    bulls, my Harley Davidson, everything I had in there could've been taken."

    Katherine Smith of Tahlequah has some misgivings about a law that contains
    language as broad as "novelty."

    "What's a novelty pipe? Something novel?" she asked. "I would really worry
    about the implications for craftsmen who make pipes, and I would say the
    same would apply to glassblowers as well."

    Smith said she owns several pipes made by Indian pipemakers that could
    easily be construed as "novelty" pipes or "paraphernalia" as defined by the
    state of Oklahoma.

    "Pipes are very, very important to American Indian traditions," she said.
    "I'd hate to see any regulations put on artisans; I don't think that's what
    a democratic government was intended to be used for - to put limitations on

    State Rep. Jim Wilson of Tahlequah said the recently-passed legislation
    probably won't change the enforcement of the existing state drug laws much,
    but it does give legislators a chance - in this campaign year - to claim
    they took a stand against drugs, precluding any accusations that they might
    be "soft on crime."

    "It was something you couldn't very well vote against, even though there
    wasn't much point in it; I think it passed the House unanimously," said
    Wilson, who said he received only one phone from an opponent of the bill
    before it was voted on. "They haven't outlawed Zig-zag [cigarette rolling]
    papers, so this really didn't make any sense."

    Mark D'Aquilla of Tahlequah agrees. Whether it's Zig-zag papers, pipes, or
    pages from the Bible, people are going to find ways to smoke pot. All the
    new legislation does, D'Aquilla said, is cut the state out of any
    opportunity to make tax dollars from the sale of paraphernalia.

    "I've seen people smoke pot rolled up in pages from the Gideons' Bible;
    I've seen people smoke pot through carrots and apples with holes bored in
    them; if someone [a cop, for example] comes along, they can just eat the
    apple," said D'Aquilla. "If the state doesn't want to make any tax revenue
    off the sale of pipes, fine - but I'd like to see them ban carrots, and I'd
    like to see them ban Gideons' Bibles from Motel 6."
  19. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    Tacoma police could soon be arresting store clerks suspected of
    selling crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia as part of the city's
    continuing effort to quell drug use.

    Tobacco shop owners aren't happy with the idea, but the City Council
    is expected to vote Tuesday on an ordinance to toughen the city's drug
    paraphernalia law.

    The ordinance would replace an existing law described as "less than
    effective" by Tom Orr, the police department's legal adviser. Last
    week, he explained the key changes to City Council members.

    The current law prohibits sales to minors, but allows sales to adults,
    which Orr called "philosophically inconsistent."

    The new ordinance would apply to everyone. The city would get a new
    enforcement hammer with the power to suspend a shop owner's business
    license, which Orr called, "the most powerful provision."

    Under the proposed law, a store clerk could be charged with a gross
    misdemeanor for selling drug paraphernalia - water pipes commonly
    referred to as bongs, crack pipes, smoking masks, miniature cocaine
    spoons, cocaine freebase kits and glass pens, which can be used to
    smoke drugs.

    If passed, the ordinance would be the first of its kind in Western
    Washington, said Greg Hopkins, a Tacoma police community liaison officer.

    "We'll have a law no one else has," he said. "It takes us to the next

    Tacoma police officials say the new law will help them address one
    route addicts use to get the tools to smoke drugs.

    Many of the drug paraphernalia items seem inconspicuous. One commonly
    sold item is the Love Rose - a 4-inch glass tube stuffed with a small

    However, when clerks sell the rose with a piece of Brillo pad, that's
    a crack pipe, police argue.

    "This item is known to be a crack pipe," Tacoma officer Robert Luke

    The pipe - which customers request by asking for a "rose" or "glass" -
    costs from $3 to $5.

    Another item is a glass ink pen, which but can be dismantled so that
    only the glass tube remains for smoking crack cocaine.

    "That pen surprised me," Luke said. "Why would you need a glass ink

    Hopkins said he saw the need for an expanded drug paraphernalia law
    earlier this year when police were tipped to a convenience store on
    Fourth Street and Tacoma Avenue that was selling crack pipes.

    Inside, officers found several boxes of glass vials containing small
    roses, balled-up pieces of Brillo pads and glass pipes used to smoke
    methamphetamine oil.

    "You can't say these are for anything else," Hopkins said of the meth
    oil pipe.

    In the past, officers have arrested chronic drug addicts under the
    drug paraphernalia law for having a crack pipe, bong or other device.
    Rarely, however, was it used to go after store clerks and owners who
    supply the items to the users.

    Not everyone is happy with the proposed ordinance. John Larson, owner
    of South Tacoma Pipe and Tobacco Co. on South 56th Street, fumed at
    what he sees as a double standard.

    "You can't get high in my store," he said. "But you can go to
    7-Eleven, buy a case of beer, go home and kill your wife."

    Larson has owned his business for 25 years, and says it ranks as the
    oldest tobacco store in Washington.

    He says his customers include uniformed police officers who buy
    cigars. There were only two customers who stopped in while a reporter
    was at the store Thursday. Both were middle-aged white men. One drove
    a gleaming black BMW, the other a red Mercedes.

    The shop windows are shuttered, blocking the view from the

    Inside, tobacco and cigars dominate the displays, but one section
    includes an array of glass pipes and multicolored bongs. A sign above
    the display states, "All accessories are designed and marketed for use
    with tobacco and legal herbs."

    Larson said no one from the city or the police approached him about
    the ordinance, and he hasn't heard any complaints about his inventory.

    "We're part of the community," he said. "My grandchildren go to school
    right down at the end of the street. We pay our taxes. You don't have
    to come into my store if you don't want to."

    He distinguishes his shop from smaller stores elsewhere in the city
    that sell large knives along with adult magazines, tobacco and smoking
    tools. Two of those smaller shops are also on South 56th Street.
    Others are scattered through the city.

    Last week, Councilman Rick Talbert praised the ordinance, citing it as
    an example of bottom-up lawmaking, driven by concerns of neighborhood

    "We've been battling drugs in this community for 40 years," he said.
    "It's difficult to send a message when (kids) can go into a
    convenience store and see these things."

    Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268 [email protected] Sean Robinson:
    253-597-8486 [email protected]

    How to get involved

    The Tacoma City Council is set to adopt regulations on the sales of
    drug paraphernalia at its meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the council
    chambers at City Hall, 747 Market St.

    What the ordinance would do:

    Make it a gross misdemeanor to sell drug paraphernalia at a store. A
    gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and a year in

    Make it a gross misdemeanor to distribute drug paraphernalia.

    Make it a misdemeanor to use drug paraphernalia to use drugs.
    Misdemeanors are punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in

    Pulls the business license from stores caught selling drug
  20. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

    Reputation Points:
    Jan 14, 2003
    117 y/o from The Netherlands

    Slender Glass Tube Houses 'Lover's Rose'

    A Central City corner store intentionally sold crack cocaine pipes over the counter, an Orleans Parish magistrate court has ruled.

    The slender four-inch tubes encase tiny plastic roses and are marketed as a "Lover's Rose," but law enforcement agencies across the nation have identified the gaudy knickknack as having a double life as a crack pipe.

    The tubes can be found near cash registers of stores in the suburbs as well as the city. The Nguyens appeared in court Wednesday and opted for trial, which they swiftly lost.

    The Nguyens were found guilty of having illicit drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, but won't serve jail time. Magistrate Commissioner Anthony Russo sentenced each to six months in the parish prison, all suspended, and one year of probation, along with $648 in fines and fees. Russo also ordered them not to sell the glass pipes or scouring pads. While the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and city police departments from Seattle to Nashville, Tenn., have gone after merchants for selling just the Pyrex glass tubes, this New Orleans case had its own added twist. The Nguyens sold what resembled a prepackaged crack kit: the tube, plus a tiny piece of steel wool, which crack users use as a filter when smoking, all for a dollar.

    The added snippet of steel wool was an obvious sign of illegal intention, police said.

    In November, an undercover officer entered the store and asked for "one pipe," placing his dollar bill on the counter. The 6th District police were tipped off by a neighborhood resident outraged that the store was selling pipes in one of the city's hot spots for drug dealing. Police officers quickly searched the store, finding more than 4,000 of the tubes in the back, along with boxes of steel wool.

    Typically, prosecutors accusing people of having illegal drug paraphernalia have evidence of narcotic residue on the object to bolster their case. But in this case, District Attorney Eddie Jordan's office won without a trace of crack cocaine on the "Lover's Roses."