San Francisco's Half-Baked Crackdown on Smoke Shops

Haight head shops get city to stop future competition

By Derek Highsmith
|  Friday, Jul 3, 2009  |  Updated 4:44 PM PDT
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San Francisco's Half-Baked Crackdown on Smoke Shops

Google Street View

Smoking paraphernalia is visible in the window of "Puff Puff Pass," a Haight Street head shop.

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In an attempt to make San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district more family friendly, the city's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban new smoking paraphernalia shops from Haight street for the next three years.

The "head shop moratorium" will have no impact on the dozen or shops already selling rolling papers, roach clips and glass water pipes along Haight street, some of which are breaking a state law that the city does not enforce.

Section 11364.5  of the California Health and Safety Code requires that all tobacco related paraphernalia not be visible to minors under the age of 18 from public streets. Several of the "head shops" along Haight street are not in compliance including the street's latest addition, "Goodfellas" - a large bong shop which opened in February prompting the moratorium. Still, the resolution cites "fear for the safety of children" as a reason for passing the resolution.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced the resolution earlier this year which cites an intent to "preserve the existing character" of neighborhoods like the Haight. The resolution raises concerns that head shops attract drug use, sales & trafficking along with loitering and littering. Still, smoke shop owners supported and campaigned for the moratorium, which will prevent further competition.

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