Prince George's County Council member Gerard T. McDonough is not satisfied with a county ban on the sale of papers used to roll marijuana cigarettes, as well as other drug paraphernalia such as roach clips and d hashish pipes.
He wants the ban extended to jurisdictions throughout the Washington area. But a letter McDonough has sent to officials from Prince William County, Va., to St. Mary's County, Md., urging a regional meeting on the subject has elicited little response. After more than two weeks, McDonough said only Charles and Montgomery officials have expressed any interest.
Still, McDough said he plans to press for a meeting next month through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governements.
At the same time, one Prince George's resident, Dolores Adams, of Bladensburgh, is raising her voice against the ban, saying it would endanger the health of youngsters who may experiment with homemade devices.
The sale of drug paraphernalia has been illegal in Prince George's County stores since Nov. 29, when a county bill was enacted. Without setting criminal penalties, the new law bans such sales in commercial zones. A second bill, sponsored by McDonough and signed into law this week by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, imposes a criminal penalty of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
Adams contacted Wilbert Wilson, an aide to Hogan, last week in the hope that Wilson would convince Hogan to veto the bill.
That appeared unlikely, however. Hogan's son, Lawernce Jr., said his father, "fully intends to sign the bill because he thinks drug abuse is a real problem. He thinks the bill might help crutail some of it."
"I say, let's start with good drug education, not anti-paraphernalis acts," Adams said. "What will happen after the head shops are gone? The kids are liable to go underground and get something that is going to kill them."
Adams said her 14-year-old son has received little information on drug abuse at Bladensburg High School.
"All they do is tell you, 'Don't fool with drugs.' That's it," Adams said.
Martha Aly, alcohol and drug program coordinator for the county schools, said her program is "one of the most comprehensive, if not the most comprehensive in the state."
Some drug education is offered in every Prince George's County school, she said, although the program is weakest in high schools where drug drug abuse courses are elective.
State law mandates drug education for elementary school students, and local school board policy requires additional instruction in grades 7 and 9, Aly said.
Last year, nearly 62,000 youths were enrolled in drug education classes, Aly said, including 10,100 of the county's 65,000 junior and senior high school students.
"There should better drug education," said Sue V. Mills, a member of the Prince Geroge's County Council and a former member of the school board. "What we have now is absolute pablum."
Although the school board should act to improve its drug abuse education, Mills said, that issue is unrelated to the legislation banning drug paraphernalia.
Mills, sponsor of the law that went into effect last month, said it was hypocritical for government to condone the sale of items used to consume drugs. h
"That which is used only to ingest things that are illegal ought to be illegal," she said. "Nobody is going to buy a bong to put flowers in. People buy bongs to smoke marijuana."
George Kolerik, director of the Temple Hills Counseling Center which works to combat drugs abuse, echoed Mill's sentiments. Better drug education is needed, he said, and he also favors the ban as "a step in the right direction."
Teen-agers are not more likely to injure themselves with homemade pipes, he said.
His younger clients have already started adapting to the law with ingenious devices, he said.
"The drug itself is the biggest hazard," Kolerik said. "It makes no difference whether they use an empty roll of toilet paper or rolling paper."
McDonough favors a regional ban to prevent teen-agers form simply driving across the county border to buy their pipes and roach clips. At leastt two bills, proposing statewide bans, have already been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly, including one by Sen. Margaret Schweinhaut (D-Montgomery County.)
"I would like to see every jurisdiction enact something," McDonough said. "It's an issue in every county. It needs regional implementation."