February 20, 2005

FL NAACP head wants to outlaw bongs

St. Petersburg, FL NAACP head Darryl Rouson may be heading to jail on a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.

Rouson entered the Purple Haze Tobacco & Accessories Shop in St. Petersburg and wouldn't leave, despite admonishments and requests to the contrary by store managers and personnel. Rouson claims he didn't leave because he was afraid of pit bull terriers on the premesis.

Rouson contends that the glass pipes sold by Purple Haze and other shops are used to smoke drugs like crack cocaine.

"The law allows them to operate behind a curtain that says tobacco accessories," Rouson said. "Everybody and their cousin knows that these pipes are rarely used for smoking tobacco."

Earlier this month, state Sen. Stephen Wise, a Republican from Jacksonville, filed a bill for the new legislative session that begins next month to create a yearlong Drug Paraphernalia Abatement Task Force. It would recommend "strategies and actions for abating access to and the use and proliferation of drug paraphernalia," according to the bill.

Even before Rouson first visited the Capitol on the issue in December, Wise said his constituents in Jacksonville had been showing up with glass tubes containing roses to complain at his office.

"It's not something you give your girlfriend for Valentine's Day," he said. "I would suspect people on the street know exactly what it's used for. People who are selling it have a pretty good clue what it's for, too."

Rouson pointed out that Purple Haze is four blocks from Gibbs High School.

Leo Calzadilla, the store's owner, said he was not worried about the legislation.

"It's not going to affect my business because I don't sell drug paraphernalia. I sell tobacco products," Calzadilla said. He said he also sells cigarettes, cigars and 1-pound bags of tobacco bought increasingly by former cigarette smokers fed up with rising costs.

Some might call this admirable, but I have to question the motive. After all, this gets him some face time, and does nothing to address the personal responsibility issue of those who use said paraphenalia.

Posted by mhking at February 20, 2005 10:35 AM
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