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Mezmorize may be selling paraphernalia, but police still shouldn’t shut them down

The dense fog of marijuana smoke is filling headlines.

Tuesday, photographs taken by Time Magazine at the University of Colorado showed hundreds of students taking part in 4-20 activities. For those who don’t know, April 20 is something of a holiday for those who smoke marijuana, and many of them spent the entire day stoned. One of the photographs showed a couple police officers walking through a crowd of kids smoking pot. The caption read, “No arrests were made.”

And in California, the November ballot contains a measure which would make the possession of an ounce of marijuana legal, no prescription required.

All this might be a sign of the changing times, but it isn’t as though the movement for marijuana decriminalization is totally without opposition.

Mezmorize, a “head shop” on South Main Street in Bowling Green, has been under investigation by the city for allegedly selling drug paraphernalia. The shop isn’t selling anything different than might be found at places like The Shed in Toledo or even some gas stations.

Naturally, the pipes are for drug use. It would be naive to say the elaborate, glass-blown pipes with fantastic colors and designs are for tobacco consumption. They merely have to be marketed that way to skirt the law.

In Tuesday’s edition of The BG News, Mezmorize owner Mike Husain said, “We are going to fight this. If we were doing something wrong, I wouldn’t have opened the business.”

Surely Husain must know, merely from seeing the clientele and the other items hanging on the walls — dashikis, posters of Bob Marley — what his patrons intend to do with the products he sells. But of course, this still doesn’t mean he’s doing anything wrong.

Marijuana grows naturally all over Earth. It has been used throughout the millennia. This is no argument, by itself, in favor of its use. Actually, if I were going to argue one way or the other on the matter of whether it’s a good idea to smoke marijuana, I would certainly say no.

It is an argument of a different kind. People are going to find ways of growing and procuring marijuana forever, no matter what the law says. And they are going to find ways of smoking it. Apple bongs, Frisbee discs with bowls to pack marijuana in and giant gas masks (which Mezmorize also sells) are the stuff of legend in the marijuana-smoking community. And even if the methods of smoking it are removed, it can be baked into foods.

Given this, Mezmorize ought to be legally allowed to have a giant banner hanging from the front of their store that reads, “Weed smoking supplies here!” and not risk punishment. What difference does it make if they sell things which are used for illegal purposes? Should home improvement stores not sell sledgehammers or crowbars?

Mezmorize is a local business, established in a community which is seeing its local industry hurting. I have already written on the trouble faced by Corner Grill. I happen to work at Finders Records, another locally-owned business, and can appreciate the need for local businesses to continue to survive and thrive.

If the police shut down Mezmorize because it is selling drug paraphernalia, it will only hurt the local economy. Whether their patrons use the products for criminal activity makes no difference whatsoever in how we ought to regard the product itself, which is totally harmless (and, actually, sometimes very pretty. Why not buy your grandma a water bong and have her use it as a vase?).

The incident in Boulder and the situation in California, which is experiencing what might be called a “Green Rush” 150 years after its Gold Rush, all point to a relaxation of marijuana policy. For the BGPD to be cracking down on paraphernalia shops in a time of upheaval against racist, class-based marijuana legislation is to leave the community of Bowling Green behind the times and to seriously damage a locally-owned business, badly needed to keep our local economy alive.

Imagine the irony. The BGPD shuts down Mezmorize, and in five years marijuana is legal in the state of Ohio. I don’t want to have to buy my grandma a vase at Wal-Mart.

Respond to Kyle at [email protected]

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