Archive for Monday, August 15, 2005

Disguises blown on drug paraphernalia

Glass tubes convert easily to crack pipes

August 15, 2005

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Those tiny fake roses sold in glass tubes at convenience stores aren't just impulse buys for romantic souls.

The 4-inch tubes are commonly used as crack-cocaine pipes, the "Sweetheart Roses" thrown away or tossed on the ground outside the store. A piece of copper wool stuffed in one end of the tube serves as a makeshift filter.

"They're marketed as a rose for your boyfriend or girlfriend, but anybody who uses knows what they are," said Nancy Moses, former drug-treatment coordinator for DCCCA, 3312 Clinton Parkway.

It's an issue that has caused concern in other states such as Florida but hasn't received much attention in Kansas so far. When contacted last week, Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials and the leader of a statewide convenience-store association said they weren't familiar with the rose tubes or their illicit use.

"It sounds pretty blatant to me," said Jeff Brandau, a special agent in charge with the KBI. "There's nothing you use a glass pipe for that's legitimate. Nothing."


Lawrence resident Jennifer Brown, 21, an employee at the Jayhawk Food Mart, 701 W. Ninth St., has concerns about items such as these glass tubes that are sold at some convenience stores. The tubes, which hold fake roses, can be purchased for little more than a few dollars and are commonly used for smoking crack cocaine.

Lawrence resident Jennifer Brown, 21, an employee at the Jayhawk Food Mart, 701 W. Ninth St., has concerns about items such as these glass tubes that are sold at some convenience stores. The tubes, which hold fake roses, can be purchased for little more than a few dollars and are commonly used for smoking crack cocaine.

Under Kansas law, stores are able to sell drug-related items that have a conceivable legal use, such as rolling papers, as long as they're not marketed as drug paraphernalia. But many see the flower-in-a-tube setup as a flimsy fig leaf.

"I don't sell that crap," said Susie Coleman, general manager of Center Distributing in Topeka, which supplies local convenience stores. "They don't care about the rose. It's a crack pipe."

On a series of shopping visits last week to Lawrence convenience stores, items sold included a 2-inch-long metal pipe on a key chain ($1.99), the Sweetheart Rose ($1.99) and a product labeled "Aroma Lavender" ($2.99), which is a glass tube with a bowl at the end and a pink fabric flower inside.

Coleman said she thinks merchants who stock the items know what they are.

"Honestly, I don't think they care," she said. "I think they just want to make the sale."

A survey of some Lawrence stores found the rose tubes available at three businesses - Quick Stop, 1000 W. 23rd St., Jayhawk Food Mart, 701 W. Ninth St., and Diamond Shamrock 501 W. Ninth St. - and not available at four others: Presto 66, 1802 W. 23rd St., Kwik Shop, 1714 W. 23rd St., Hillcrest Amoco, 914 Iowa St., and Wood Oil, 920 N. Second St.


A few items used for smoking crack cocaine and other drugs include this finger-sized metal pipe, the "Aroma Lavender" glass tube, which contains a glass bowl at the end, and the "Sweetheart Rose" glass cylinders.

A few items used for smoking crack cocaine and other drugs include this finger-sized metal pipe, the "Aroma Lavender" glass tube, which contains a glass bowl at the end, and the "Sweetheart Rose" glass cylinders.

Representatives from Quick Stop and Diamond Shamrock didn't respond to requests for an interview. A clerk at Jayhawk Food Mart, Jennifer Brown, said she sold about five of the glass tubes per day and that they're more often bought at night.

She says she believes it's wrong that stores are allowed to carry them. They're not considered drug paraphernalia, she said, because "the laws aren't specific enough."

Boni Bever, a sales associate at the Kwik Shop, said her chain was conscientious about not stocking things that could be used as drug paraphernalia. She said she's happy she doesn't have to sell the roses.

"If that's what they're known to be used as, you're going to have that kind of traffic in your store," she said. "Who's going to say they're not going to come in all high and rob you?"

In 1998, St. Petersburg, Fla., police arrested 14 store owners, managers and clerks in an undercover investigation called "Operation Rose," according to a St. Petersburg Times article. Media reports also have cited efforts to stop the roses from being sold in cities including Seattle, Chicago and Milwaukee.

But Thomas Palace, executive director of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, said the issue hadn't yet surfaced for his organization.

"In my 10 years here, that's the first time I've heard about this stuff," he said. "If we received a call from the KBI and they said, 'This is something we'd like to see you pull off the shelves,' I would definitely put that out to the members."















Paraphernalia guidelines

Some people say the "rose tubes" sold in local convenience stores are widely known to be crack pipes. Here are the 14 factors Kansas law requires be considered to determine whether something is drug paraphernalia: 1. Statements made by the owner concerning its use. 2. Prior drug convictions of the owner. 3. The proximity of the object to a violation of a drug law. 4. The proximity of the object to an illegal drug. 5. The existence of any illegal drug's residue on the object. 6. Evidence of the owner's intent to deliver it to someone he or she "should reasonably know" intends to use it for an illegal purpose. 7. Oral or written instructions provided with the object. 8. Descriptive materials accompanying the object. 9. National and local advertising concerning the object's use. 10. The manner in which the item is displayed for sale. 11. Whether the owner is a legitimate supplier of similar or related items, such as tobacco products. 12. The ratio of sales of the objects to the total sales of the business. 13. The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community. 14. Expert testimony concerning the object's use.

Source: Kansas Statute 65-4151.

Comments

lunacydetector 10 years ago

someone once told me that the cigarette lighters that work like a torch (the kind that can be used in high winds) were used for smoking crack because they get very hot.

i've seen those in countless convenience stores. i'll have to check kwik shop next time i go in.

Kaw Pickinton 10 years ago

I just feel bad for the girl at Jayhawk Food Mart that will be out of a job in the morning.

Those thing are all over town. Once again, great journalistic investigation work LJW.

Horace 10 years ago

What's wrong with lightbulbs?

Nikki May 10 years ago

I'm thinking the "executive director of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas" is either dumb or lying. Most people have known this forever. However, I've never even seen that Aroma Lavendar thing. That's even worse than the tubes. It's an obvious pipe.

Angel Gillaspie 10 years ago

what about an aluminum can? or aluminum foil? or a ballpoint pen? if they want to smoke the stuff, you can make a pipe out of just about anything, can't you? btw, how does one use a lightbulb?

Carmenilla 10 years ago

My husband is from KCMO and has always joked that the only person those little roses were for was a crackhead's girlfriend! I always thought it was a "city thing" but I guess crack is everywhere. And meth too esp in our neck of the woods. Yikes!!!

At the gas station by my house they sell every kind of blunt and have actual glass pipes and bongs for "wacky tobacky". Its amazing what people can get away with.

Although I'm not as worried about stoners as I am crack and meth heads. Its like apples and oranges......or apples and opossums. Not the same by a long shot.

Ragingbear 10 years ago

On the war on drugs, paraphanalia is not really the issue. All they do is make it easier to consume the product, but it does not lead to increased drug use or purchasing.

Furthermore, the ingenuity of humans will ensure that ANYTHING can be used for paraphanilia. Soda cans can make makeshift marijuana pipes. Small tubing available at any home improvement or plumping supply place can be used to make a variety of different pipes. Lightbulbs are favorites for meth users. And these are just a few examples. Should blatant or even subtle paraphanilia be allowed? No. Especially when it comes to those obviosly used for the more hard drugs (crack, meth, ect.). But the root of the problems remains the same.

It's not the availability of drugs that causes drug use, it only supports it. The decay of society, the lack of proper resources and counseling for youth and society in general, weak economy, bigotry, intolerance, and lack of proper funding in critical structures like education are the main source. The people, feeling that life has given up on them, feel no choice but to give up on life. And since drugs, alchohol and sex, especially among young adults commonly mix, then the cycle is perpetuated throughout each generation.

The key: In addition to agressive arrest on drug DEALERS, and increased social/economic/sociological mental health programs will result in people choosing not to use because life has so many things to offer that are better than the shallow numbness brought about by drugs.

aidan 10 years ago

I'm a little surprised it's taken Lawrence and the KBI so long to catch on to this. They did a huge expose about these "roses" on one of the Kansas City tv news stations about a year ago...

Fish2002 10 years ago

Do you honestly think that LPD and KBI had no idea that the convenience store "roses" were drug paraphanilia? This is more of an example where law makers or city officials charged with the duty of writing ordiances are behind the times. Without good laws or ordiances LPD nor the prosecutors can address the problem.

paperjam 10 years ago

"Posted by kawryan on August 15 at 2:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I just feel bad for the girl at Jayhawk Food Mart that will be out of a job in the morning."

She's married to the owner. I think she's good.

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