Drug paraphernalia ordinance one step closerAfter tabling the issue last year, the Red Wing City Council took a step toward limiting drug paraphernalia in the city Monday night.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
After tabling the issue last year, the Red Wing City Council took a step toward limiting drug paraphernalia in the city Monday night.
The council voted 6-1 to introduce an ordinance suggested by Police Chief Tim Sletten regulating the possession, display and sale of drug paraphernalia.
Sletten said there is evidence that drug use is increasing among youths in the area. Parents, law enforcement and groups such as the Chemical Health Initiative are working to combat drug and alcohol problems, especially among youths, he said, and likened the proposed ordinance to the social host and seller/server regulations adopted in Red Wing and throughout the county.
“This paraphernalia ordinance is another tool that strengthens that work,” he said. “By approving this ordinance, we take one more step in the right direction to show that the city of Red Wing is serious in reducing the use and abuse of illegal drugs.”
In the proposed ordinance, drug paraphernalia is generally defined as materials, equipment or products used, intended for or designed for use to create, package, process, test or take controlled substances.
Those include everything from capsules and other packaging, scales, baggies and hypodermic needles to water pipes and roach clips.
The matter was tabled at a council meeting last year because members had a host of questions. Since then, Sletten has talked with members individually and the issue was discussed at a full council workshop.
“With the changes we’ve made I feel comfortable with the constitutionality,” Council member Lisa Bayley said Monday.
But Moe Wazwaz, who owns Red Wing Smoke Shop, and his attorney Britt Ackerman said they likely would challenge it in court.
“I think it’s targeting my shop,” Wazwaz said.
Ackerman said the language is overbroad and constitutionality would be an issue. She also said it would not have the intended effect.
“It’s misplaced to try to legislate through an ordinance a cure to our drug problems,” Ackerman said. “Although there’s the best of intentions, this is just simply not the best form of public awareness.”
City attorney Amy Mace said cities who have had similar ordinances challenged have been fairly successful, most recently including Hastings.
“These laws are by and large being held up as constitutional,” she said.
“I find it upsetting that when we're trying to do the right thing we're being threatened,” Council member Peggy Rehder added. “In my thinking it has just the opposite effect of what it was probably intended to do.”
Council member Dan Bender, who voted against the ordinance, said the list of what drug paraphernalia includes seemed too broad and subjective to him.
“I think that most people that own all of these things don’t necessarily want to go to court to make sure they can keep them,” he said.
The council must vote on the ordinance again to adopt it.