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Award-winning investigative journalist (and dad) Peter Gorman has spent more than 20 years tracking down stories from the streets of Manhattan to the slums of Bombay. Specializing in Drug War issues, he is credited as a primary journalist in the medical marijuana and hemp movements, as well as in property forfeiture reform. His work has appeared in over 100 national and international magazines and newspapers.

Peter Gorman's love affair with the Amazon jungle is well-known to people in the field. Since 1984 Mr. Gorman has spent a minimum of three months annually there generally using Iquitos
Peru as his base. During that time he has studied ayahuasca the visionary healing vine of the jungle with his friend the curandero Julio Jerena. He has collected artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History botanical specimens for Shaman Pharmaceuticals and herpetological specimens for the FIDIA Research Institute of the University of Rome. His description of the indiginous Matses Indians’ use of the secretions of the phyllomedusa bicolor frog has opened an entire field devoted to the use of amphibian peptides as potential medicines in Western medicine.

Paraphernalia: Smokin’ Hot Legal Issue Again

by Peter Gorman

At 11 AM, on March 6, three police officers from the Calgary Police Service entered the Bongs and Such store at 4829 Macleod Trail SW. in Calgary, Canada and presented a search warrant for all the glass, wood metal pipes, bongs and metal tubing on the store’s shelves. Over the next 4-and-one-half hours they went through the inventory and bagged what one witness described as “almost everything in the store.”

At the same time, on the same day, other officers were serving similar warrants on three other stores in Calgary, two in the 100 block of 7th Avenue SW and another on the 100 block of 8th Avenue, SW. All told, according to a press release provided by the City of Calgary, the police seized “Approximately 3,000 marijuana and crack cocaine pipes and hundreds of other pieces of drug paraphernalia…from the four businesses.” Additionally, at one of them police found eight pounds of marijuana, just over four ounces of hash and an 45 grams of cannabis oil.
Three of the raids were said to have been carried out in an orderly fashion, but one of the stores was reportedly “totally trashed,” by police, witnesses told Cannabis Culture.
According to Calgary Police Service Drug Unit Staff Sargent Monty Sparrow, “This was probably one of the few investigations targeting these types of businesses in recent memory.” Calgary Sun crime reporter Sarah Kennedy said they were probably the first paraphernalia busts in Calgary in “at least ten years.”
The official reason for the busts, said Sparrow, was because police had been given tips on the four stores that they were selling their products with the knowledge that they were “going to be used for illicit drug use”. Sparrow noted that under Canada’s Random Virtue law the police could not normally raid or confiscate the items from stores, even if they suspected the items could be considered paraphernalia. “The thing with the tips we got was that people told us that if you went into these stores and asked for a crack pipe they’d sell you one, which makes them illicit items intended for drug use.”
Interestingly, Bongs and Such, which has been in business for several years, has no crack pipes for sale, and has been meticulously clean about the way it does business. Their pipes generally run in the $35 range and their bongs mostly go for $80-and-up. They also carry a full line of vaporizers, but do not carry crack pipes.
Several people in the industry in Calgary noted that they thought Bongs and Such was probably included in the raids because the owners of the two Bongs and Such locations (only one was raided) are outspoken political activists. They recently held an auction to raise funds for Marc Emery’s extradition defense and have been bold enough to take out full page ads advertising their wares in the Calgary Sun.
After one ad was run in August, 2005, Bill Hillis, one of the owners of Bongs and Such was quoted on Global TV as responding “You bet,” when asked if the store condoned pot smoking.
Because no charges had been filed as CC is going to press, none of the owners of Bongs and Such or the other stores involved were available for comment.
The Calgary Sun’s Kennedy said she thinks that while activism might have played a part in Bongs and Such being targeted, she thought that the primary reason for the raids—as they’re so rare—was that a local acting police inspector was aiming at becoming a permanent police inspector and that several other police in the district of Calgary where the busts occurred were going for promotion. “It’s police promotion time,” she said.
Though few stores are bothered by the police with regard to smoking accessories in Canada, the Canadian paraphernalia laws are actually quite draconian. According to the Drug Paraphernalia and Literature sections of the Canadian Criminal Code—a uniform code enforced across Canada, as opposed to the US model of a Federal Criminal Code being supplemented by individual State Criminal Codes—paraphernalia is defined as an “instrument for illicit drug use”. The Code goes on to say that means “anything designed primarily or intended under the circumstances for consuming or to facilitate the consumption of an illicit drug.” Penalties for being found guilty of breaking the paraphernalia law can reach a $100,000 fine and six months in jail—or both—on a first offence, and a $300,000 fine and a year in jail—or both—on subsequent offences.
According to Sparrow, such harsh penalties are not likely to be meted out. “The stores, if found guilty, will probably be fined and lose the items that were seized. On top of that their licenses will be in jeopardy. But that all depends on a conviction and as of now none of the stores owners or employees have even been charged yet.”
The busts sent shock waves through the smoking accessory community throughout Canada temporarily, but when no further busts occurred, things quickly quieted down.
One smoking accessory shop owner in Calgary who asked that neither he nor his store be identified, noted that while he did not anticipate any further pipe seizures, the busts “are a good reminder for people to keep things on the up and up. There’s not much enforcement for these things up here in Canada but you still have to remember to be clean and keep your employees sharp about what they can talk about. If someone comes in asking for something illegal, you just have to refuse to sell to them and then ask them to leave. Period.”
Meanwhile, in the US…
While the bong busts in Calgary are a rarity in Canada, it’s a different story in the US, where fanatical anti-drug crusaders frequently put the heat to local and state politicians over the issue. The last several months alone have seen a number developments in the anti-paraphernalia movement around the US.
In January of this year, Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and the Philly Blunt, banned the blunt. Retail stores were ordered to remove all “blunts and other drug paraphernalia” from their stock. At the time the bill was passed, Jerry Rocks, a Philadelphia police detective was quoted in the local papers as saying, “It’s not just a blunt bill…it’s an anti-drug bill.”
Utilizing the DEA’s definition of paraphernalia, the law prohibited selling any items “where the seller knows, or under the circumstances reasonably should know” that they would be used to “convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation” of the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.
Cigar manufacturers immediately challenged the legality of the law and on March 7, before it had eve