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Philadelphia Bans the Sale of Blunts

November 1st, 2006 at 01:57 am


The city’s war on drugs yesterday became a war on blunts.

After a City Council hearing that was more an anti-drug public service announcement, the loose cigars available at most inner-city convenience stores and Chinese takeout joints — typically emptied out and filled with marijuana — may soon become illegal to sell.

Council’s Committee on Licenses & Inspections unanimously approved a bill yesterday to outlaw the sale of “loosies” and other drug paraphernalia, including cigarette wrapping papers. The full Council is expected to approve the measure next month.

“I think it sends the wrong message when you can get a blunt or rolling papers with your Now and Laters or Lemonheads or pretzel sticks,” said Stephen Clay, the medical director at the Gaudenzia drug treatment facility.

Clay said that those coming to Gaudenzia for treatment are asked to write a life story. Many, he said, start their stories at the age of 7 or 8, when they smoked their first blunt.

Activists say the blunts come in more flavors than soda and their easy availability on the streets helps lead to a feeling of “lawlessness.” Blunts are sometimes laced with PCP or cocaine, activists say, for an even greater high.

“It just seems outrageous what’s going on in the city,” said Councilwoman Joan Krajewski. “It is a serious problem plaguing our city.”

According to one major retailer, they would stop selling small packages of blunt cigars if the bill passed. The bill outlaws sales of cigars in packages of fewer than six, except by specialty tobacco shops.

“We have a long history of not selling items of that nature, especially the rolling papers and so forth,” said Lori Bruce, a spokesperson for Wawa. “We certainly will continue to work with City Council and comply with whatever it is that they mandate.”

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