NEWS/POLICE

Federal agents seize merchandise from Phat Stuff in Keene including glass smoking pipes and bongs in May 2014. Photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

By MEGHAN PIERCE

DUBLIN — I just wanted to write a little story about a new ordinance in Dublin charging a fine for possession of drug paraphernalia. But the editors I was writing for were perplexed. Since when is drug paraphernalia against the law, they asked me.

You see the new state law regarding small amounts of marijuana is cumbersome for officers out in the field. And while some people believe the new state law decriminalizes marijuana, pot is still illegal and you can still face a criminal misdemeanor charge if police catch you with it more than three times in a three-year period. But for the first three offenses within that window you just receives a civil fine. The police officer issuing that fine, however, has to contend with a flow chart taking into account the age of the person, the substance and the amount. With the new drug paraphernalia ordinance in Dublin, town police officers can opt to issue a civil fine for possession of drug paraphernalia instead.

But drug paraphernalia laws are nothing new, the police chief said, adding the town is just playing “catch up” And he’s not wrong. Towns and cities across the state have these laws, as does the state and the federal government.

As a journalist I stood outside Phat Stuff in Keene in May 2014 as federal agents carried away boxes filled with brand new bongs and glass pipes that never touched an illegal substance. While the store owners were accused of breaking other federal laws, I was shocked at the time that one of the charges was for merely selling unused drug paraphernalia.

When I was writing the story I reached out to local glass blowers hoping to talk to one who makes and sell glass pipes. I did speak to one who told me while she doesn’t make or sell glass pipes, she understands it’s a lucrative business. I guess it’s not a surprise that none of the glass blowers who make glass pipes wanted to talk to me.

Click here to read my full story.