Ontario Safety League campaigns against drug gear sold in convenience stores
Published Monday, August 19, 2013 6:30PM EDT
If you send your kids to the store to buy a loaf of bread, there's a chance they could see drug paraphernalia on the shelves too.
And the Ontario Safety League (OSL) is calling that trend a serious public safety issue.
The OSL says it's far too easy to buy drug paraphernalia like pipes and bongs at corner stores and say the access is enabling drug use. The league wants the items removed from store shelves and is now holding store owners accountable.
They have launched a new campaign.
For local stores to sell drug paraphernalia is irresponsible,” says Brian Patterson with the OSL.
In recent weeks the safety league has sent mystery shoppers to corner stores across the province and purchased dozens of what they call drug-related items. The group’s biggest concern is the message that's being conveyed to children and teens.
“All of these were displayed often next to gum and candy,” says Patterson. “The stores selling these pipes and bongs are sending our kids a message that drug use is acceptable.”
It's an issue police say they receive numerous complaints about, but the law itself isn't clear.
“The fact that they're selling it on a shelf doesn't make it illegal,” says South Simcoe Police Staff Sgt. Steve Wilson.
However, drug paraphernalia can lead to charges when it’s found in combination with a drug.
The safety league has launched an online petition to have drug paraphernalia removed from convenience stores and people can report stores that are selling the items. People we spoke with say the items have no place in the same stores where daily essentials can be bought.
“I think it attracts the wrong kind of people and kids shouldn't be exposed to it,” one person says.
And for parents, it's a much bigger problem.
“It tells them drugs are mainstream and it’s okay, but that's not the message we want to convey,” says another.
Corner store owners selling the pipes and bongs didn't want to talk on camera. But the Ontario Convenience Store Association supports the campaign, saying it doesn't condone the sale of drug paraphernalia. It is urging people not to shop where such items are sold.
The safety league says when a complaint is made they will contact that convenience store owner and ask them to stop selling the drug paraphernalia and even launch a public complaint if that doesn't happen.