Drug Paraphernalia and Cigars: Words that Don’t Belong in the Same Ordinance

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Drug Paraphernalia and Cigars: Words that Don’t Belong in the Same Ordinance

Being a member of the Cigar Rights of America (CRA), I routinely receive email alerts in regards to whats going on with the cigar industry from the political perspective. The most recent to hit my inbox had me shaking my head a little more than usual.

The email alert contained an article written by Glynn Loope, CRA Executive Director, about the recent goings on in the Washington D.C. City Council. It seems that there are a group of five city council members seeking to amend the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to ban the sale of single cigars.

The article goes on to say that this amendment is completely open ended and does not exclude cigar shops and the like. Rumor has it that it is targeted towards gas stations and convenience stores but we are told that there is no mention of this in the amendment. I do understand the aspect of safety and addiction for which one can get treated at drug rehab Ft Lauderdale, but such a law in place can be quite hard-hitting on the cigar industry as most of them make their revenue by the sale of single cigars.

Below is the email that I received from the Cigar Rights of America. If you are interested in receiving these email alerts as well, and are not ready to join the CRA, you can sign up for free at the CRA Website.

CRA Masthead

Drug Paraphernalia and Cigars:
Words that Don’t Belong in the Same Ordinance

By J. Glynn Loope, CRA Executive Director

There is more trouble in Washington , DC , but this time it’s a few blocks from Capitol Hill. It’s in the Washington , DC City Council chambers.

An initial group of five (possibly eight) city council members, including Marion Barry, Tommy Wells, Michael Brown, Yvette Alexander and Harry Thomas, have introduced an amendment to the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982, known as the “Single Sale of Cigar Products Prohibition Act of 2009.” The very reading of “cigars” in a “drug paraphernalia” ordinance is deeply disturbing, and the reason such a trend needs to stop – now.

The intent of the proposed ordinance is to prevent the use of cigars as a means to marijuana use. The draft ordinance defines cigar as “an individual cigar, cigar leaf wrapper, flavored or non flavored cigar that is referred to as a blunt, blunt wrap, or any other tobacco product that may be used in the ingesting, inhaling or introduction of marijuana to the human body.”

In this draft, there is no mention of price, size, hand-made, machine-made, or other defining characteristics of cigars. While media reports have said its intent is to ban sales at convenience stores and gas stations, there is no mention of them in the bill either.

Local premium tobacconists such as W. Curtis Draper and Georgetown Tobacco view the language as too vague, with John Anderson of W. Curtis Draper stating, “It’s scary because it’s open ended.” David Berkebile of Georgetown Tobacco intends to join in the opposition.

The measure is not without precedent. Just over the border in Maryland , Prince George ‘s County Council, where ordinances were advanced to require sales of cigars in packs of five, helped usher in a trend with such public policy. That legislation did exempt stores that specialize in cigar sales.

Earlier this year, Mayor Sheila Dixon of Baltimore , Maryland stated, “cheap cigars are becoming popular and these products are addictive and deadly.” The effort in Maryland was praised by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, stating “Individual cigars are more affordable to price sensitive kids.”

We would like to dramatize how such nebulous policies can lead to unwarranted and unjust actions.

Recently, a customer of Havana Connections, a Richmond , Virginia based premium tobacconist, purchased a $10 cigar, left the shop, and proceeded to drive home. He was enjoying the cigar in the privacy of his car, when he saw the blue lights flashing in the rear view mirror.

When the cigar enthusiast asked what the problem was, the officer said he saw smoke, and wanted to know if he was using marijuana which he can only do with a doctors permit, to learn how to get one, just get more info at the link. Obviously, the answer was no, but the officer said “well, I have probable cause. Give me the cigar. I need to test it.”

After some protest, he took it; set the cigar down, and the officer proceeded to cut this premium hand made cigar in half, dousing it with a solution to test for the presence of marijuana. Guess what? There was none. The cigar enthusiast proceeded to say, “you owe me $10 for that cigar.” The officer said, no, but you can take it up with our office. He did, and they gave him $40 for his trouble. True story. Two weeks old. Amazing.

In government, especially at the local and state level, one of the foremost contributing reasons to bad public policy is the setting of precedent and others saying “we should do that too.” That’s how an outdoor smoking ban makes its way from San Francisco to Boston . That has been the case on matters of indoor and outdoor smoking bans, private property (housing) smoking bans, regulation of advertising and marketing, and the setting of tax policy.

Hopefully on September 29, a committee of Washington DC City Council will set aside this proposed ordinance. More so, however, there needs to be a halt to the very introduction of these measures across the country.

enjoying cigars since 2005

14 thoughts on “Drug Paraphernalia and Cigars: Words that Don’t Belong in the Same Ordinance

  1. If you believe in freedom, then you should be able to smoke, drink, and eat what you want…some people want to take that choice away…what do you call people who want to take that choice away?

    I hope that people don’t shy away from this subject on the forums because political talk is normally a no-no, but when it comes to Americans losing rights then it is bigger than just chit-chatting about stogies! A little anger is OK in between reviews in my opinion!

    Great post!

  2. Walt-

    Thanks for publishing this, and to CRA for capturing it. So what is next: are they going to consider drinking straws as drug paraphernalia?

    Two things on this: there is a big difference between pot smell and cigar smoke. Couldn’t the cop tell the difference? I am sure s/he has had an opportunity to smell one if not both. Common sense is definitely lacking here.

    Second, Marion Barry sitting in the DC city council? The same guy who was convicted of smoking crack cocaine and spent six months in a federal prison. Shame on the DC voters for putting such characters to create legislation. I guess he is very familiar with drug paraphernalia.

    – Ed

  3. I don’t see this as just a paraphernalia issue. I think it’s a way to introduce smoking bans. Unlike cigarette companies, cigar companies don’t have the senators and reps in their back pockets, so instead of trying to ban cigarettes, they try to ban cigars.

    This would completely kill any and all b&m’s since singles is how they earn their dollars.

  4. Wow, that a bunch of bunk. If we do not start standing up to these people we will have no “freedom” of choice to do any damn thing. Thanks Walt for posting this and I hope W. Curtis Draper and Georgetown Tobacco (and JR Tobacco, plus other shops in DC) band together to voice their opposition…while doing so educate them about the difference between cigars sold at convenience stores and gas stations versus those sold at cigar (specialty) shops.

  5. This is the kind of story that got me to join the CRA a couple of days ago. Every cigar smoker should join to fight these anti-smoking, I mean anti-FREEDOM nazis.

  6. I was looking at opinions on other websites on this issue and someone brought up a good point. Why don’t they ban bowls and bongs before cigars? Why don’t they ban rolling paper? Don’t those seem like more logical steps to take before banning a product that doesn’t really lend to the purpose of smoking weed? This is like saying that we need to ban syringes from being sold because people use them to shoot up.

  7. What happened to stoners using regular zig zags? They even have king size papers and a little adhesive to make rolling easier.

    Instead they spend 50 cents on a single cigarillo, when they could get 32 zigzags for a dollar more. Fuckin idiots. You could even get two zig zags and stick them together and make a fat ass canon, instead they use “blunts” and now cigar smokers gotta get hassled.

  8. Actually I’m pretty sure bongs and rolling papers are already considered paraphernalia… This still sucks though, you can smoke weed out of a frakkin toilet paper tube, should they ban toilet paper now as well? This is just ridiculous. They are basically just taking baby steps to completely illegalize all tobacco use. They already banned the sale of flavored cigarettes, I’m sure flavored cigars are next, single cigars, then boxes in general. This infuriates me!

  9. Justin-
    It might be considered paraphernalia, but you can still buy paper in most gas stations and tobacco shops. I know of a place in KC that sells bongs, vaporizers, and pipes. There are just a million signs that say for tobacco use only, so no one can put them out of business.
    Following this logic, shops should just be able to put a sign up saying do not replace the filler in cigarillos with any other substance, and they would be fine, but instead congress wants to penalize legitimate sellers of premium cigars.

  10. Oh I know, I was just saying that they were also listed as paraphernalia. Honestly I don’t even think there needs to be a sign. With bongs that’s one thing, because to be honest those things were probably never really intended to be used with tobacco in mind. 🙂 With cigars however, that is extremely contorting the intended use of them which is to smoke them in their natural form. I doubt some stoner kid is going to pay 10 bucks for a premium cigar anyways when they can buy 5 in a pack for 4 bucks at a convenient store. It’s just the man trying to get us down. Viva la CRA!

  11. Hell, some of the gas stations around me have buy one pack get one free deals where its actually cheaper to buy the packs than singles. If this is passed, we must ban the sale of syringes because they are used by people who shoot up, spoons because people use those for coke, and all household products that people sniff to get high. I see no difference between these items and cigars.

    I really don’t care if cigarillos get banned period, but my gut instinct is to think that none of this is right because the government is taking away the personal freedom of a bunch because a few use it in a unintended way. It’s just sickening that the government probably thinks this is a two-birds with one stone issue.

  12. I can buy a single can of coke at any convenience store, and with a nail or pen create a fairly functional pipe to smoke from. However you will never see them trying to ban good ol’ coca-cola

  13. never thought of that lol. it just goes to show that if they make single cigars illegal, if they don’t just go and buy a cheap pack, they’ll find something else to smoke with.

  14. Banning single cigar sales as a means of preventing a delivery method for other drugs is both a red herring and a slippery slope. What is next, banning the sale of bottled beverages or aluminum foil? A bong can be made from virtually anything by the clever or industrious.

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