If you’re concerned about crime and economic development in Lake Highlands – and who isn’t? – then you may already have heard about the effort to circulate petitions to try to stop the sale of so-called drug paraphernalia in the area.

The idea is to put pressure on owners of liquor, tobacco and convenience stores – and the landlords who rent to them – to stop the sale of items that are used to consume illegal drugs.

Specifically, the Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association (LHAIA), which is circulating the petitions, identifies these products as objectionable:

  • Rolling Papers – theoretically used to roll cigarettes, they can also roll marijuana joints
  • Flavored Tobacco Products
  • Cigarettes sold individually – allegedly taken apart and used for marijuana; filters are used for other drugs
  • Chore Boys – scrubbing pads which are used to make a crude screen for holding crack rock in place
  • Pipes – glass or metal, in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Glass tubes – usually 4 inches long and used for smoking
  • Baggies – plastic bags about the size of a quarter are used to carry marijuana and crack rocks

More information and photos of the targeted items are available on the LHAIA website at lhaia.org.

“We want the message to resonate loud and clear to these landlords and store owners that the sale of drug paraphernalia IS NOT and WILL NOT be tolerated in Lake Highlands,” proclaims the petition that area residents are being asked to sign.

Why not sign? Can’t hurt. But will it really help?

Proponents hope the petitions will discourage merchants from selling the products. They also vow to submit the petitions to City Council Member Bill Blaydes, Mayor Laura Miller and Police Chief David Kunkle in the hopes of getting an ordinance to limit or prohibit the sale of the paraphernalia.

LHAIA officials say that selling some of these products, such as tubes used for crack vials, has already been banned in other states. Finally, they believe that the U.S. Attorney General might be able to prosecute offenders.

The logic behind this effort is that places that sell these products attract not only drug users, but also prostitutes and other so-called undesirables, according to LHAIA. And they say the businesses lure check cashing, coin laundry and “dollar” stores which, in turn, drive away upscale tenants.

I’m all for fewer illegal drugs and more upscale shops in Lake Highlands. But personally, it seems to me like cracking down on sales of rolling papers and little baggies is a very indirect approach to stemming the area’s drug trade. That’s targeting the drug user, not the dealer. And I’d think that people who come to Lake Highlands to buy drugs will continue to do so as long as there’s a supply, even if they have to go somewhere else to buy rolling papers.

You can’t knock folks for wanting to crack down on drug paraphernalia. But I think it might be more effective to focus on the drug dealers, and the indifferent landlords who turn a blind eye to drug dealing at their apartment complexes.