Balto. bill seeks to expand drug-paraphernalia ban

October 08, 2002|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

City Council President Sheila Dixon and Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. introduced a bill yesterday to expand the city's ban on drug paraphernalia to outlaw the sale or possession of pipes or glass tubes used to smoke crack cocaine and other illegal substances.

Before submitting the legislation at last night's City Council meeting, the council members held a news conference in front of a liquor store at North and Monroe streets on the city's west side, in an area overwhelmed by the illegal drug trade.

"We are standing on a corner where you can come from 6 a.m. to [midnight] and there is always drug activity going on," Dixon said. "We've got to do everything we possibly can to discourage the use of drugs. But the business community has to work with us ... to stop the sale of drug paraphernalia."

Dixon held up a small crack pipe that she bought at a city gas station and said she would like to see similar items removed from the shelves of stores.

Mitchell stood by her side and showed the crowd of about 30 people a small glass tube with a tiny plastic rose inside that he said he bought at a local store. Addicts discard the plastic flower and smoke crack through the tube, Mitchell said.

The legislation proposed yesterday would impose a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to a year for anyone possessing any "pipe, tube or other device that is designed or intended for use in smoking ... a controlled dangerous substance."

The event yesterday evolved into an impromptu drug counseling session as more than a dozen addicts crowded around to press Dixon for advice.

Dixon listened patiently, explaining that she understands drug addiction because her brother died of drugs and AIDS and left his son - former University of Maryland basketball star and Washington Wizards guard Juan Dixon- to be raised by his grandparents and aunts.

"What is outlawing more drug paraphernalia going to do? The city needs more drug treatment programs," said Rosalee Alexander, 34, a heroin addict.

Dixon wrote down Alexander's name and phone number - as well as the names of seven other addicts - and promised to try to help them. Dixon said she would see if there is space for them in the city's recently expanded treatment programs.

"I'll try to help," said Dixon, putting her hand on the woman's shoulder. "But if you really want to get off drugs, you've got to have the will."

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