Shelton leads fight against sale of drug paraphernalia

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 17-Mar-2010

State Rep. Mike Shelton has declared war on illegal drugs and the sale of drug paraphernalia in convenience stores. Shelton said drug paraphernalia has become readily available in locations around the Oklahoma City area, leading him to seek legislative action on the issue.

“When you go into a convenience store the last thing you normally expect to see are crack pipes for sale on the counter, but that’s what I found when I recently accompanied ABLE agents doing field checks,” said Shelton, an Oklahoma City Democrat.

As a result of that experience, Shelton brought a small assortment of the pipes, made of glass or metal, to the Capitol building to illustrate the problem for colleagues. Shelton checked with the chief sergeant at arms before bringing the paraphernalia. 

“I gave a pipe to the Speaker of the House, one to the Speaker Pro Tempore and told them where the pipes originated, asking for their help to target the sellers,” Shelton said. “The chair of the Judiciary Committee refused to take one, but agreed to make some phone calls on my behalf.”

“These products are being sold in many communities and I felt an unusual approach was needed to grab their attention. The idea that these devices are readily available to youth is shocking.” Rep. Shelton said most of the stores selling the drug paraphernalia are independent and not affiliated with larger chains or the petroleum marketer’s association, which represents most convenience stores.

Shelton has pressed efforts to combat the drug culture. Last year, he proposed legislation to ban sale of an energy drink called “Cocaine,” noting the product was targeted at youth and trivialized the threat of illegal drugs. “Anything I can do to reduce the abuse of drugs and the glamorization of drug use is time well spent,” Shelton said.

Shelton is working with officials from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and legitimate convenience store operators to develop legislation to target sellers of drug paraphernalia. Proposed legislative language would make it harder to market items designed to facilitate drug use while protecting the rights of those who sell pipes to smoke tobacco.

“There is a chance we might be able to get something done this year with an amendment, but if not, I will be proposing legislation to address this in the next session,” Shelton said.