When does a piece of glass become illegal (Ashcroft's war on pipes)

So John Ashcroft has decided to start cracking down (pardon the pun) on drug paraphenalia. Raids took place all over the country yesterday.

I’m just curious about something. Until a pipe is actually used for an illegal purpose, what is illegal about it? Sure, if it is covered in residue from smoking pot or crack or whatever. Then there is proof of illegal activity occurring. But it is perfectly fine to go into a tobacco store and purchase a “tobacco” pipe, which could just as easily be used for smoking marijuana.

Also, what about “cigarette” rolling papers. They are sold in every 7-11 in the land. Shouldn’t these stores be raided as well? And believe it or not, you can make a pipe out of just about anything, even an apple. how do we combat that? Where is the logic and consistency here? And is this really the most important thing on the agenda right now? Have we won that war on terrorism so now we can go back to the drug war?

I understand that if something is illegal, then the law needs to be enforced. But as someone pointed out in another thread, a baseball bat isn’t illegal until you hit someone with it. I just don’t see how this is going to make any difference, given how easy it is to find alternatives to what is sold in head shops. And I don’t understand how something, until it is used illegally, can just be assumed to be used for illegal purposes. There are legal uses for this stuff. For example, there are Hookah lounges popping up in Southern California where you can go in, rent a water pipe, purchase a number of flavored tobaccos, and smoke them while reading, playing cards, or conversing with friends. It’s all perfectly legal. But these are the same hookahs that are causing paraphenalia stores to be raided.

I just don’t get it. Maybe you can enlighten me. :slight_smile:

If pipes are outlawed, only outlaws will add pipes.

[sub]sorry, I can’t enlighten you, so I figured I’d make a cheap joke[/sub]


I heard this on the radio yesterday. And, well, it’s just crap, really.

I didn’t hear many details, but I think it might be illegal to sell most of these things to anyone under 18, and the radio bit made it sound like they were going after places that sold to people under 18. It still sounds like a huge waste of money, but OK - so if you have to be 18 to buy cigarettes, it makes sense that you have to be 18 to buy “tobacco smoking products”, even though everyone knows that’s not what they’re for.

The thing that really got me was that they mentioned going after people/places with ROACH CLIPS. Ok, Bongs, Pipes, Hookahs, etc, etc - I can see where you’re going there. But ROACH CLIPS? For god’s sake man, they’re ROACH CLIPS.

sigh… your tax dollars at work (assuming you live in the US anyway - if not, have a good laugh at our expense).

Because inferences are permissible, musicguy.

Some inferences are a matter of common sense, and others are written into the laws as presumptions.

In general, items that are grouped under ‘drug paraphenalia’ are of such nature that the totality of circumstance of their sale or possession creates a fair inference that they are intended for illegal use.

An analogy might be lock-picking tools. Let’s say there was no law against such tools. We all agree that there is no crime in picking your own front door locks. But the vast majority of lock-picks are not owned by private, law-abiding citizens. They are owned by professional locksmiths, for legal reasons, or burglars, for illegal ones.

So the law criminalizes the possession of lockpicks, with an exception for persons who are legitimate, professional locksmiths. It’s true that this rule may cramp the style of a law-abiding citizen who wished only to pick his own locks, but such situations are rare.

Now, if half the people in the country had a habit of keeping lockpicking tools on their person, then the inference that they’re up to no good might be a poor one.

So, too, with paraphenalia. If you can point at a specific piece of illegal paraphenalia, and show that its legal use is widespread, then you have the beginnings of a good point, I think.

  • Rick


I would think that smoking tobacco out of a pipe is a lot less rare than wanting to pick your own lock, but I do understand your point.

Also, I’ve seen 3 hookah lounges open up in the past 6 months. I would guess that this is because they are becoming popular. So I find it interesting that you can go to one of these places and it’s perfectly legal. You just can’t purchase the equipment to perform the same legal activity in your home.

Of course, knowing Ashcroft, those places will probably be short-lived as well.

Ahem. Bricker, I’ll bet I could make a case that a large percentage of cars are used in traffic violations. In fact, I’ll bet that there are more cars that have been used to commit a crime* than have not. Should we make cars illegal?

*Speeding, double-parking, driving with the tail-light out, etc.
Yes, cars have an alternate use (driving legally). But if tobacco-smoking cannot legitimize hookahs, why can that legitimize cars?

I think it boils down to 3 points of common sense.

  1. Most cars are not bought for the purpose of committing crimes, even though many end being so used.

  2. Most items such as we’re discussing here ARE bought for the purpose of committing crimes, and I would suggest to you that nearly all are so used.

I can say from experience, for example, that pipes used to smoke tobacco would be quite poorly suited to smoking marijuana or crack. It ain’t exactly hard to tell 'em apart… It’s not exactly rocket science to walk into a head shop, find a bong and be pretty darned sure it’s not gonna be used to smoke Drum tobacco…

  1. There’s also an issue of degree. If you wish to indicate that double-parking and smoking crack are equivalently severe crimes, that’s certainly up to you, but I will disagree (and snigger at you)

Now whether, say, drunk driving and smoking pot are equivalent… Now there we got something to talk about. As it relates to THIS thread, I’d simply point out that the percentage of cars which are used to drive drunk, and the percentage of bongs used to smoke pot are likely to be vastly different. As to the question overall, you’re welcome to start a new thread about it if you want to do so.

And before y’all start screaming “cite” please be aware that I started this off by saying it’s common sense – I don’t intend to “prove” or “cite” what I’m saying here any more than I intend to give citations for “if you jump off the Empire State Building, you’re almost certainly gonna die”… If you disagree with me, that’s just peachy (have fun jumping). This is MY perception of common sense and I realize it may not be yours – though I’ll think you’re nonsensical in that case. But considering this whole country started out based on “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” I’m not going to get in a tizzy about following suit myself.

First they go after the suppliers. Next, the posessors. My buddy the grip (Movie grip) should be nervous today.

Gosh, what with terror cells roaming the nation, terror alert on eternal code “orange”, and war on the horizon, hasnt this guy got better things to do?

This guys a nutcase if there ever was one.

It still seems like a waste of resources to me. Is raiding head shops going to stop a single person from smoking or selling weed. What is the point? Also how do the feds decide wht is paraphenalia and what isn’t. Sure a Tokemaster bong is not going to be used for tobacco, but what about rolling papers? I’ve made many makeshift pipes out of just plain tinfoil. Is tinfoil paraphenalia? What about plastic baggies? Obviously, bongs, hookahs, one-hitters, etc. are nice if you’re a stoner, but they are not absolutely crucial. so what is busting head shops supposed to accomplish?

Alright, let’s talk “common sense”. If we were to agree that the primary purpose of this paraphernalia was for illegal uses, then it is common sense that these same items should be illegal. (Note the “if”, I am taking a devils advocate position here).

What is the effect of this crackdown?

Will it diminish demand for these illegal drugs? Will it diminish use of these illegal drugs? Does it have the potential to create additional black market activities, taking (otherwise) legitimate business and trade (taxes and employment) over to the nether-world?

Or does it simply increase the value of Home Depot and Lowes’ stock, as these same consumers recognize that a few cheap parts from the plumbing and lighting department can make an equal effective bong (albeit, not as pretty)?

Hmmm. Common sense, indeed.

I’m sure there a lot of guys out there thinking, “You know, if I can’t burn some doob in a giant Evil-Clown-Skull Pyrex bong, then it’s just not worth doing. I smoked my last of that evil weed. Use a standard pipe from Walgreens, that costs 1/20th the price? You are mad, sir!”

Good post, Diogenes

I think all that it accomplishes is that it gives the impression that he is actually doing something to fight this “war” on drugs. As if this is going to decrease drug use at all. If anything, it just gives him an excuse to seize more assetts and get his face on the news so he can say “See, we are doing something”

A third grader can figure out how to smoke pot without having to buy one piece of paraphenelia. This does absolutely nothing but tie up more government resources.

Ashcroft and U.S. Department of Injustice are once again revealing their monumental stupidity.

Hell, a buddy of mine and I used to half-crush a soft-drink can, punch small holes in the middle, put a small amount of reefer around the holes, and breath the smoke through the drinking hole.

You can use tweezers, alligator clips, and hemostats to hold roaches. Hell, I’ve never owned a damn roach clip in my life.

You can also rig a “Jefferson Airplane” by using a razor blade to slice most of a match in half; then placing a roach in between the halves. I don’t recommend this as is it is hard to hold the roach, but it can be done.

The feds are a bunch of dweebs.

Well, by that argument should the authorities ignore domestic disputes, traffic violations, mail fraud, or any other criminal activity that does not have the same urgency as a terrorist with a car bomb?

*3) There’s also an issue of degree. If you wish to indicate that double-parking and smoking crack are equivalently severe crimes, that’s certainly up to you, but I will disagree (and snigger at you)

You are certainly right that smoking crack is a victimless crime whereas double parking can create dangerous/annoying traffic problems but I think the analogy still serves.

Or did I misunderstand you?

The Peyote Coyote, another solution is to get some class and put a cardboard filter in :wink:

(at least thats what a classy friend of a friend mentioned once)

Bingo! We have a winner!

Like a fair part of the war against drugs, it is mostly a matter of appearance. Don’t expect any substance. Don’t expect any distinctions between pot and meth and coke and heroin. Expect to see big money thrown at PR firms to work up adds that insult your intelligence. Any day now they might make Paul Harvey the new Drug Czar since moral posturing is right down his alley—and the Attorney General’s too.

I think if they’re going to fight a “war on drugs” (a dubious endeavor, imo and another thread topic unto itself) there are more effective ways to do it. It’s a waste of resorces because it does nothing to stop addiction, violence or any of the other social problems associated with illegal drugs. Swiping all the bongs is akin to battling domestic violence by raiding men’s clothing stores for “wife beater” T-shirts.

Of course not - because the benefit of legal cars to society is beyond cavil. Cars are primarily used for legal purposes, and their use for illegal purposes, even if great in number, is incidental, not primary. In other words, people don’t buy a car to speed, double-park, or drive with the tail-light out. They buy a car to legally transport themselves. The illegal activites that may ensue are generally de minimis.

The benefit of glass pipes to society is less clear.

  • Rick