Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011-02-17 "City Attorney Dennis Herrera Files Lawsuit Against Six San Francisco Stores for Selling Crack Pipes " by Helene Goupil
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – San Francisco’s City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, is filing a lawsuit against six local stores for selling crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia.
Herrera said that the stores are located in the Ingleside, Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhoods.
The lawsuit states that the stores violated state code by displaying and selling paraphernalia used to consume cocaine and methamphetamine, and they created a public nuisance by "injecting illegal drug paraphernalia into the stream of commerce," according to lawsuit documents.
"The police have been to these stores numerous times," said Jack Song, a spokesman for Herrera. "The stores are aware of the issue, but they are still selling these illegal products."
An employee at a store included in the lawsuit, Smokes Etc. near 16th and Guerrero streets, said officers came by his store last month.
"He told us to take it off the shelf, so we took it off the shelf," said the employee, who did not wish to be named.
Herrera has encountered some concern over how officials can prove the stores sell pipes to smoke cocaine and not some other use, Song said.
"It's not a flower vase," he said. "It's a crack pipe, and it's used for smoking crack."
In addition to Smokes Etc., the stores involved in the lawsuit are Mission Gifts and Tobacco at 4784 Mission St.; House of Cigarettes at 912 Geneva Ave.; Platinum Smoke Shop at 5901 Mission St.; Tobacco Plaza Center at 3008 16th St.; and Rock On at 4447 Mission St.
Rock On is across the street from the Excelsior library.
"It's near a library. It's near a community center," Song said. "These areas have a lot of kids and families."
Song said it's important to target the stores instead of individuals themselves because the shops become hotspots for hardened drug users.
"These aren't people on medical marijuana," he said. "They're using illegal drugs."
The stores face $2,500 for each violation in the lawsuit, and they could face court-ordered injunctions.
“We hope this case sets an example for other stores," Song said.

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