Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ban stores near schools: Eadie

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Head shops will be banned from operating near schools if a civic committee has its way.

Councillors on the protection and community services committee on Monday instructed the administration to review procedures that would, through zoning regulations, control retailers selling drug paraphernalia.

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"I don't have a problem with them operating, but having them close to schools is sending a message to school-aged children that we condone the drug lifestyle," Coun. Ross Eadie said.

Eadie said the so-called head shops -- legitimate retailers whose inventory includes materials used in the enjoyment of marijuana, including rolling papers and pipes of various designs -- used to be located in the downtown area. He said more and more seem to now be located outside the core and near schools.

Coun. Scott Fielding, who brought the issue to the committee Monday, said if head-shop businesses were zoned as conditional use, then their location would be subject to a public hearing where residents could voice their concerns.

The issue of head-shop operators came to the forefront last week when the owner of the Hemp Haven store in Elmwood was charged with selling drug paraphernalia and the owner of the popular Osborne Village store Wild Planet said the apparent police crackdown is prompting him to sell his business.

Winnipeg police issued a statement Friday denying a crackdown is in force, although they admitted they have visited "many" shops recently "to discuss complaints brought forward by community members, organizations and school administrations."

One operator, however, said police gave him 30 days to get rid of the drug paraphernalia or face arrest.

Coun. Harvey Smith expressed caution that his colleagues might be overreacting, adding he wants any administrative report to include data on how many head shops operate in the city and where they are located.

-- Aldo Santin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2014 B4

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