Head Shop Crackdown

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 6, 2001.

  1. By Philip Smith
    Source: Boulder Weekly

    Call them "head shops," "bong shops," or stores that specialize in smoking accessories. Whatever one calls them, stores that sell paraphernalia that can be used for marijuana are abundant in Boulder, as are glass blowing artists who make pipes.
    Local cops have seldom made an issue of it, usually opting not to pre-judge the motives of people who buy or sell glass pipes. But customers and merchants may have a new concern, namely the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been coming down on so-called "head shops" in college towns.

    Adam Engleby thought everything was cool in his Big 12 town. His shop, Hemp Cat in Iowa City, sold "smoking accessories,"-or bongs, pipes, and rolling papers. But the Iowa City Police Department visited regularly, and they never had any problem with Hemp Cat's back room. After all, Iowa City is a progressive, tolerant college town, and local police reflected the relaxed attitude.

    The Iowa City Police Department's Sgt. Brotherton has said as much. "We don't see [the Hemp Cat] as a major problem," he said. "We weren't paying much attention."

    But what was an acceptable arrangement for the community wasn't good enough for the feds. On February 11, Engleby's home and business were raided by teams of civilian-dressed law officers, headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    "The DEA led the raids," Engelby said. "The only badge I was shown was a DEA badge. They had warrants for 'drug paraphernalia' and any sort of records, and they took everything. They took our rolling papers, they took real tobacco pipes, and, of course, they seized all of our computers-four of them, two at the store and two at home. They even took my wife's computer."

    "The Iowa City PD never hassled us in six years of business," groaned Engleby. "No one ever came in and told us to stop, no one complained."

    Engleby finds himself among a growing number of "alternative store" (the industry cringes at the term "head shop") owners and operators being rudely awakened to the reality of federal drug paraphernalia laws.

    Unlike many state and local paraphernalia statutes, which allow for a subjective, contextual interpretation of whether a given object is indeed drug paraphernalia-sometimes a spoon is only a spoon-federal law is black and white:

    Possession of a bong is a federal offense, and so, of course, is sale or manufacture of a bong, or conspiracy to do so. It can get you three years in federal prison.

    And it doesn't matter if the bong has never been used or if it is a jewel-encrusted work of art; a bong is a crime.

    And to make things even rosier, since 1990 federal law has made drug paraphernalia violators subject to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization ( RICO ) statutes and money laundering charges, as well.

    "It's simple," said head shop defense attorney Robert Vaughan, the long-time publisher of an industry newsletter. "If you have a bong, you're violating federal law. You can get a license to own a tommy gun, but you can't get one to own a bong."

    "Stores that have bongs are screwed," the Nashville-based lawyer said. "They can't win. The Supreme Court upheld its so-called objective standard in US v. Pipes and Things in 1994, and now categories of items are per se illegal."

    Jerry Clark and Kathy Fiedler, of Des Moines, were already well aware of federal paraphernalia laws. Their shop, Daydreams, was raided by the feds last year, and they are scarred by the experience.

    "We were raided by US Postal Inspectors, the DEA, and local cops and sheriff's deputies," Clark said. "And we're barely hanging on now. It's hurt us financially; we've lost over $250,000 in inventory and paid out lots of money in legal fees. And they're using the RICO act on us, so we're facing 10 to 12 years. They've seized my partner's properties under the asset forfeiture laws. But all we can do is try to litigate our way out or come to a negotiated settlement.

    Clark and Fiedler remain in business, but they are angry.

    "You have to get mad at the people who created this stupid law," Clark says. "But looking at the penalties we face, we're not going to do anything to rock the boat."

    We don't feel like felons," added Fiedler, more hurt than angry. "These people don't have any idea who's smoking-they think it's the kids, but our customers are lawyers, preachers, even people from the state Attorney General's office. They're nice, average people, but instead of drinking a six-pack, they'd prefer to smoke things."

    Attorney Vaughan, who is representing Clark and Fiedler, says it would be funny were it not for the serious consequences.

    "With Operation Pipeline they managed to knock out all the big boys," he said. "But all they've created is a whole multi-level cottage industry, and lot's of these people don't even know about the federal law, they don't have any historical memory of Pipeline, and enforcement is sporadic. What a waste of time and resources and peoples' lives. It's as if the feds were out arresting the guy smoking a joint on the corner."

    Note: DEA Hits Local Yokels.

    News Article Courtesy of MapInc. http://mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n381/a13.html

    Newshawk: jAHn
    Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
    Author: Philip Smith
    Published: March 1, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Bolder Weekly
    Address: 690 South Lashley Lane Boulder, CO 80303
    Fax: (303) 494-2585
    Contact: letters@boulderweekly.com
    Website: http://www.boulderweekly.com/
    Feedback: http://www.boulderweekly.com/speakingout.html
  2. uh oh! im breaking federal law! thats fucking bullshit. i got pissed after reading that.
  3. and there is also legal alternatives to use in a bong or pipe. i really hate the US govt. SJ, do have an extra room you can set up for me? I gonna live with you till I find my own place to live in Amsterdam. jk, i wish tho. maby one day I'll go live there.
  4. pulled for the DEA site dea.org,

    Marijuana contains known toxins and cancer-causing chemicals that are stored in fat cells of users for up to several months.so that meens that they go away Marijuana users experience the same health problems as tobacco smokersyea, thats why so many people over dose on pot, such as bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma.if you eat it you wont get that Some of the effects of marijuana use also include increased heart rate, dryness of the mouth, reddening of the eyes, impaired motor skills and concentration, and frequent hunger.only while your stoned Extended use increases risk to the lungs and reproductive system,again if you eat it that wont happon as well as suppression of the immune system. Occasionally, hallucinations, fantasies,if it's laced and paranoiawere paranoid because every 36 seconds a pot user gets busted are reported.
  5. Stand and be counted, or just bitch?

    ;)I wonder what would happen if, the next time someone in "my" town was busted for owning a bong, "ONE OF US" organized every toker in town and arrainged to have them show up ( at a predetermined time)... at the cop shop with a bong in hand (unused if possible) and challeging them to "arrest us too". :D
    ( maybe MJ support groups could help with the fines, if any.)
    I'm not much of an "activist" myself, not anymore, ( ;) too old and too sore) but i was "big time" when i was younger, the usual causes of the sixties, Vietnam, human and civil rights, blah, blah, blah.) I chained myself to so many damn fences, I had ridges in my back from leaning against them, while waiting to be arrested. Ahhhh, memories of youth. ;)

    [​IMG] Getting involved in fights u believe in, makes u feel alive only when u truly believe in the injustice of the
    issue(s) at hand enough to do your part in whatever way u can. If u leave the fight to other people. then u become part of the problem, not part of the solution. (OBW) [​IMG] :D

    [ March 10, 2001: Message edited by: kodajake ]
  6. oh my god. i cant believe that. ugh..... im pissed now. owning things capable of destruction (guns, cars) is fine, but having a harmless bong is illegal. US law boggles the mind.
  7. Can you repost that link its not working. Thanks
  8. This is out and out thievery/thuggery! :mad:
    Why don't they just take their graft and go, like the gangsters before them did?
    DEA = organized crime.

  9. You folks can settle down now. This thread was started in 2001.
  10. LOL :laughing:
  11. Ah... the days before the Federal Government had things to do other than track down terrorists. :rolleyes:
  12. Damn my bad. Didnt realize that. Guess thats what i get for using search.

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