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P'dale mulls banning drug-related items
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Porterdale is considering an ordinance that would ban the sale within city limits of items that could be used for drug consumption.

The new ordinance is in response to former city councilman and mayoral candidate Arlene Chapman's complaints about a Chevron station on Ga. Highway 81 selling glass pipes that can be used to smoke marijuana and pornography.

City councilmen could read and vote on the proposed ordinance at its meeting Monday evening.

"We're in a city where we had a drug problem, and still do to some extent," Chapman said.

If approved, the ordinance would prohibit sale of "drug related objects," defined generally as any object "designed or marketed as useful primarily" for ingesting, testing, processing, concealing or enhancing the effect of marijuana. It also includes clips for holding short cigarettes and miniature spoons and vials for holding and using cocaine.

The ordinance would give the city the ability to determine whether an item is "drug related" by considering expert testimony, advertising, instructions on how to use the item and the scope of practical uses.
Stores in Porterdale would have three months from the effective date to sell or get rid of the banned items.

"If they do it for the whole city, we have no problem," said Abel Amre, the general manager of the Chevron station. "But it doesn't make any sense."

Amre said the ordinance will have little effect in stopping people from buying pipes and hookahs because multiple convenience stores in the county, and several near Porterdale, sell the pieces as well.

Chapman said she received a citizen's complaint about the pipes and about pornographic videos and magazines being sold near other merchandise.

Amre told The News last month the magazines and videos are covered and customers who buy them are asked for identification. On Wednesday, both the videos and magazines were located behind the sales counter. The pipes and hookahs were locked in a glass case.

"It's legal (to sell these items)," Amre said. "They're labeled for tobacco and we check ID."

Porterdale police Investigator Doug Clifton told City Councilors last month that he visited both the Chevron and the Shell across the street to inspect the set up and the merchandise.

"I did an investigation of both stores and they are state compliant," Clifton said.

Chapman said allowing the pipes to be sold in the city sent the wrong message, as officials seek business development. "It's counterproductive to what we're trying to do here," she said.