City Aims to Crack Down on Pipe Sales

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

Reno, NV - Walk into just about any convenience store in downtown Reno and at the front counter, you will probably find a glass counter with glass pipes. But the city is hoping they won't be on full display much longer.

"There was a concern of kids going into a store and next to the candy they would see certain types of tobacco pipes or glass pipes or pipes that might be perceived to be used for other things," says Alex Woodley, Code Enforcement Manager for the City of Reno.

Other things like drugs. And they want to discourage that.

"There is that perception that it attracts children with the colors and the cartoos and the hope is that anything we can do to try to minimize that exposure to the kids is definitely something we want to look into," says Woodley.

That's why he will propose an ordinance at Wednesday's city council meeting.

It would require shops that sell those pipes get what is called a privilege license. Getting that license requires a background check.

"One of the biggest concerns of council was they didn't want anyone who was convicted of a drug offense to be in the business of selling what appears to be drug paraphernalia," says Woodley.

The proposed ordinance would also mandate that stores could not sell to anyone under the age of 18. And that pipes could not be in plain view of a minor.

"For those (stores) that do not have clients under the age of 18 enter, then they would be required to cover the pipes, whether it's through black windows or some have even created a separate room where you have to get permission to go into that room and prove that you're 18," says Woodley.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

"There's goods and bads to it," says Bob Dawg, a glass blowing artist and owner of Twisted Minds. "I think it is for the greater good for the community here," he says of the proposal.

However, Dawg is not a fan of the proposed privilege license requirement.

"We're being categorized with some o the local cabaret clubs, escort businesses, gambling, bars," he says, referring to other businesses in Reno that have to get a privilege license. "We're not in those categories."

And since getting the license means paying $165 per quarter - or $660 a year - to sell what he's already been selling, he feels it's not good for business.

"It's going to hurt the city of Reno," says Dawg. "We've got enough empty businesses up and down Virginia Street right now. They need to be full and we need to try and help support these thriving businesses."

"We definitely don't want to put any businesses out of business," says Woodley. "We want to be business-friendly."

KOLO 8 News Now spoke with other business owners who sell glass pipes, but they did not want to be on-camera. Some told us that they already do not allow kids under the age of 18 to enter their business, so all they would have to do is blacken their windows if they want to keep the glass pipes on display in the front - as well as put up large lettering that says no one under 18 is allowed to come in. Several business owners said they would follow the ordinance if it is passed. That includes Bob Dawg.

"I'm all about being here for the city of Reno," says Dawg. "If we end up having to pay a special permit fee, I'm all about paying what I have to if it ends up going that way, but yeah, in the meantime, I'm going to fight it. For what I believe in."

The proposed ordinance will be presented at Wednesday's city council meeting. There will also be a public hearing. If council accepts it, there will be another reading next month and if it passes, the ordinance could be enforced as early as this spring.

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