Safety League Targets Drug Paraphernalia

Asks retailers to stop selling questionable products

Not at my store

TORONTO -- The Ontario Safety League has launched a public campaign to halt the illegal sale of drug paraphernalia in corner stores across the province.

“Over the past few months we have noticed the growing trend of convenience stores openly selling and promoting drug paraphernalia, items like pipes, (pill) grinders and related paraphernalia,” Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Safety League, said Monday, according to a report in The Toronto Star.

Patterson noted that it is an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada to sell drug paraphernalia and urged convenience store operators to stop selling these items, which the Ontario Safety League’s mystery shoppers found for sale.

“All of these items were displayed prominently, often at the point of sale next to gum and candy and lottery tickets and the like at neighborhood corner stores in Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Mississauga, Brampton, Windsor, London, St. Catharines, Guelph, Cornwall and Ottawa,” he said.

The Ontario Safety League is circulating a petition asking the public to report any convenience stores selling inappropriate drug paraphernalia in their neighborhood.

“Let’s be perfectly clear, the pipes, the grinders and the bongs for sale in these stores are clearly intended for smoking illegal drugs like hash, marijuana, crack cocaine or using OxyContin,” he said, noting that some store owners try to get around the law by putting up “for tobacco use only” signs.

Toronto Police Services spokesman Tony Vella said “while we are supportive (of the campaign), the challenge is ... to prove that the paraphernalia is being used exclusively for illicit drugs” before charges can be laid.

Dave Bryans, CEO of Ontario Convenience Stores Association, told the newspaper he was the first person to sign the petition.

“We don’t condone it ... and we would encourage customers not to shop in these types of stores if that activity doesn’t stop,” Bryans said, adding that he doesn’t believe the sale of drug paraphernalia is widespread.