A young girl’s desire to purchase an attractive glass pipe set a series of events in motion that could ban the sale of pipes marketed for tobacco use but often used to smoke marijuana or crack, as well as a variety of legal mild-altering substances in both the village and town.
Speaking at the March 7 Town Board meeting, Saugerties Supervisor Kelly Myers said her daughter spotted a colorful pipe at the Speedy Mart convenience store on Main St. and asked if she could have one — for its aesthetics, not its utility. (Artisans also use a similar technique to produce glass jewelry.)
This got Myers thinking: should we really allow such products to be displayed in convenience stores? She didn’t think so, and being the most powerful elected official in Saugerties, she was in a position to do something about it.
The Town Board last week introduced a law prohibiting the sale, possession, or distribution of products containing synthetic drugs and synthetic cannabinoid (marijuana) in the town of Saugerties. In what Myers said will be “an historic first,” the board and village will hold a joint public hearing on the substance law tentatively scheduled for March 21.
A follow-up law prohibiting the sale of drug paraphernalia (pipes and other items now on sale in the village and town) that can be used in consuming the soon-to-be prohibited substances will be introduced at the Town Board’s April meeting.
The products are diverse. They include: herbal incense, K2, Spice, Spice Gold, Hayze, Spike 99, Zohan, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Funky Monkey, California Dreams, and Train Wreck.
Deputy police chief Joe Sinagra said the police department’s schools resource officer reported students in the schools are using these substances, while others are talking about possibly using them.
“Kids are already doing these synthetic drugs in Saugerties,” Sinagra said.
Safety is a big concern. Myers said she has talked to Diaz Ambulance Squad, which covers the town. She was told EMTs have responded to multiple calls of Saugerties youth suffering from health issues as a result of using the products.
Sinagra said the law being discussed by the town and village boards is similar to national legislation supported by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
He said he expects the laws to be tested in court. Similar local laws in other communities in New York State have been challenged and upheld, he said.
Violation of the law would result in – first offense – a fine not to exceed $250, second offense – a fine of not less than $500, and third offense – fine not to exceed $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year.
Shop owners react
Doug Nolan, vice president of the corporation that owns Smokers Choice, contradicting Sinagra, said similar local bans have not been successful. His company would probably fight any attempt by Saugerties to ban the sale of these items.
Nolan said the company, located in Rock Hill in Sullivan County, owns 66 shops statewide.
Speedy Mart owner Harry Barot said his shop follows the law closely, and pointed to a conspicuous sign banning sale of tobacco, pipes and any other item in question to anyone under age 18. If the town and village passed the law he’d promptly comply.