Some residents see red over Purple Haze

Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
news@wylienews.com
By Judy Truesdell
Staff Writer
 
When Ron Lovett stood up in public forum at the July 12 meeting of Wylie City Council, he expressed a sentiment many people are expressing to their friends and neighbors: What’s Purple Haze, a business that purports to sell “detox, glass pipes and novelties,” doing smack in the middle of town at the intersection of Hwy. 78 and FM 544?

Purple Haze’s sign also notes that it provides products for “chronic needs.” Urbandictionary.com defines “chronic” as “very high-quality weed ...” Weed is a slang for marijuana.

Lovett said that the police department, churches and schools have been working very hard to promote drug awareness, and he had a “big concern” about the new business that’s come to town. Noting that drug paraphernalia is sold there, he said he expected Purple Haze to bring “no telling what to our city.”

Lovett said he has two small children, both of whom have asked him what’s sold in that business with the purple lights in its windows. “It’s less than 100 yards from Hartman Elementary and half a mile from an intermediate and junior high,” he said. “It’s not an appropriate business for our city.”

He said the placement of the business makes it worse. “This thing is right in the middle!” he said, adding that, as a volunteer at church who is doing everything he can to help kids do the right thing, “it’s a kick in the pants to see something like this. It’s a big sore thumb on our city.”

Lovett said he had talked to the assistant principal at Hartman and feels that “lots of people are very upset.”
“Wylie is opening the door, saying ‘come in and do drugs!’. It’s bad enough if it was on a back road, but all traffic in Wylie sees it. It’s very shameful, I believe.”

In a news release issued July 15, Wylie Police Chief John Duscio said the city and PD have received many inquiries about Purple Haze.

“Businesses opening in Wylie must follow a comprehensive process of approval as their application moves through several departments,” he said. “The Planning Department first ensures the business conforms to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. Purple Haze Tobacco is classified as retail - general merchandise, which is an allowed use by right in the Corridor Commercial District.”

Duscio said that, according to Purple Haze owner Jim Hankin, “Purple Haze No. 4 is selling tobacco products and smoking accessories, including glass pipes.”

Duscio said the most common question being asked the PD is whether or not glass pipes and other items in the store and listed on Purple Haze’s sign, are considered “drug paraphernalia” and whether they are illegal to possess and sell.
 
“Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481 defines drug paraphernalia as, ‘Equipment, a product or material that is used or intended for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, or concealing a controlled substance in violation of this chapter or in injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter.”

Duscio said the key terms in this definition are “use” and “intended for use.” 

“From a law-enforcement perspective, a glass pipe does not become drug paraphernalia until it is used as such. Once that occurs, there is no question about its intended use. In other words, unless there is evidence such as drug residue or burnt marijuana indicating the item was used to ingest or inhale illegal substances, the item by itself is not considered illegal. Glass pipes can be used to smoke tobacco, and that is what the owner is stating the item’s intended use is.”
Duscio said he and his officers have been asked whether, if someone buys a pipe or other item from the store and gets stopped by the police, he would be arresting for possessing drug paraphernalia. “As stated above, unless there is other evidence indicating the item has been used or is intended to be used with illegal substances, the pipe on its own is not illegal,” he said.

Duscio also noted there has been concern in the community about the sale of tobacco products to minors and the sale of synthetic products such as K2 and other marijuana-like substances. “These substances are illegal to possess, deliver or manufacture in the state of Texas,” he said.

Those wishing to discourage businesses such as Purple Haze have one way to motivate them to seek locations elsewhere, Duscio noted.
 
For more of this story, pick up a copy of the July 20 Wylie News.
 

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