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Wisconsin community bans stores from selling drug paraphernalia

Residents in South Beloit may find it difficult to find certain items in stores. After a city council meeting on Monday this week, an ordinance was passed that bans the sale of items considered drug paraphernalia.

Does this mean that the sale of drug paraphernalia could be a drug crime? Or does this simply mean that stores cannot sell the items to consumers? Do officials believe that by passing this ordinance they will discourage the use of illegal substances?

Apparently concern was first raised when officials noticed that more tobacco shops had begun selling the drug paraphernalia. These items can include things like pipes, cocaine spoons, and tubes. This type of paraphernalia is often associated with the use of illegal substances.

But could shops challenge the ordinance? The items by themselves are not illegal. Does it make sense to ban the products completely? If the intent is to prevent the use of illegal drugs, prohibiting paraphernalia may not be the answer. Those who really want to buy these items may just leave South Beloit and go to a neighboring town to purchase the products.

If the ordinance is successful at decreasing the number of drug-related crimes in South Beloit, perhaps other communities in Wisconsin will follow suit and adopt similar ordinances.

But this raises the question of what should be regulated by the city. If something is not inherently a crime, should it be banned? Will those who do use illegal drugs simply find replacement items that serve the same purpose?

Source: Beloit Daily News: "South Beloit to prohibit sale of drug paraphernalia," Clint Wolf, Aug. 2, 2011

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