During the past year, city officials in Imperial Beach have tried to pass an ordinance banning the sale of tobacco paraphernalia commonly used to smoke illegal substances.
Last October, deputies raided two “smoke shops” for selling drug-related paraphernalia; that same month, the city implemented a temporary moratorium in order to prevent any such businesses from opening.
On Wednesday, January 21, the Imperial Beach City Council made the temporary moratorium permanent. However, the ban does not apply to any established businesses.
City attorney James Lough read the ordinance to councilmembers:
“What you have in front of you is a long and tortuous effort; surprising, considering how short the [language of the] ordinance is. It’s a prospective ban on tobacco paraphernalia, not tobacco — it’s not a ban on tobacco. The purpose of this ordinance is to work on the ill effects of over concentration of certain types of products that can be used for legal and illegal purposes.
“The ban here is not related to, um, items that are banned by the health and safety code related to drug paraphernalia. And while there are some common definitions, what we are targeting here is the sale of tobacco paraphernalia, which we can regulate. The definition of tobacco paraphernalia includes water pipes, bongs, chillums…I didn’t even know what some of these were…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
“Um, what is a ‘chillum’?” asked councilmember Fred McLean.
“Uh, I believe,” said Lough, “it is a device that chills, like, with ice or something, the smoke that goes through it.”
The city council voted 4-0 in favor of the ordinance, with councilmember Jim King absent. The law goes into effect after official adoption during a February 4 council meeting.