Crack-Pipes.jpgCommenter salsaman asks: What is the legal basis for [SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s lawsuit against six local stores selling crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia]? I’m curious what the law is that these shops are (alleged to be) violating, and why the city attorney has to sue them as opposed to just getting the police to order them to stop selling these items?

The store owners are in violation of California Health and Safety Code section 11364.7, says the Attorney’s Deputy Press Secretary Jack Song.

The code states that “any person who delivers, furnishes, or transfers, possesses with intent to deliver, furnish, or transfer, or manufactures with the intent to deliver, furnish, or transfer, drug paraphernalia, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that it will be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance, except as provided in subdivision (b), in violation of this division, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Song put it more bluntly: “The equipment that the stores [in question] sell are clearly used for hard drugs, not for decoration or anything else.” How can they tell? Song said some of the pipes come with accessories like copper mesh, which is commonly used as a screen in crack pipes.

Why the lawsuit instead of police action? Song said the police have tried ordering the stores to stop selling the items, but that “we decided to work together with the police because we want to go after the stores for maximum civil penalties…We’re hoping that [the judge’s potential ruling] will serve as a long term example to other stores.”

“The police could have [continued to act] on their own,” Song said, “but they decided to work with us so we could appear stronger and more long-lasting–so that we could have a bigger impact.”

Check out the complaints and the City Attorney’s press release for yourself.

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