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A new county ordinance has given local authorities help in the war on drugs.
The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office recently released information about a new county drug paraphernalia ordinance, approved by Lancaster County Council, which is intended to crack down on drug use.
Created by Sheriff Barry Faile, along with county staff, the ordinance amends the county’s code to include clearer definitions on illegal items used for ingesting, smoking, administering or preparing illegal drugs.
“Council has passed an ordinance making it unlawful for any person to advertise for sale, manufacture, possess, sell or deliver, or to possess with the intent to deliver or sell drug paraphernalia,” said Sheriff’s Maj. Matt Shaw in a press release.
The list of paraphernalia includes marijuana pipes, smoking masks, roach clips, cocaine spoons, electric pipes, bongs, heroin spoons, pill presses, glass vials or bottles used to transport liquid controlled substances, blotter paper, plastic baggies, scales, measuring spoons, crack pipes and grow lamps, among other items.
“This certainly does give us some other options,” Shaw said in an interview Monday morning. “There are some times when you come across someone with paraphernalia and they are involved in illegal activity and previously nothing could be done about it. So, I think it’s a very good thing to have.”
The ordinance was formally approved by council in May and Shaw said the sheriff’s office is already enforcing the new county statute.
“The sheriff’s office advises any business that has drug paraphernalia advertised or for sale to immediately dispose of the items,” Shaw said.
Violators of the ordinance are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be subject to fines or jail time.
The ordinance faced some criticism as it was being developed from residents who worried it could be misinterpreted. Those residents were concerned that wording about plastic bags, scales or measuring spoons would result in law-abiding residents being arrested for possession of the items.
Their concerns were alleviated by County Administrator Steve Willis and County Attorney Mike Ey, who said the final section of the ordinance lists several ways for a court to determine if a household item can be classified as drug paraphernalia.
Those factors include statements from an object’s owner about its use, proximity of the object to controlled substances, whether drug residue is found on the object, instructions provided with the object for its use, the manner in which it is displayed and whether its owner is a legitimate supplier of similar items.