The chairman of a House committee looking into marijuana laws recommended yesterday the closing down of all stores that sell materials - papers, pipes and other paraphernalia - used to smoke the drug.
"If we have laws on the books that say it is wrong to use this substance, we ought to close these stores down," said Rep. Lester L. Wolff (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.
"One of the things that troubles me is that there are stores that are openly selling these devises that are used for marijuana" at a time when law enforcement officials, doctors and social scientists say they are trying to discourage use of the drug, Wolff said.
Wolff's statement came at the close of three days of public hearings on proposals to ease federal penalties on the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Dr. Peter G. Bourne, director-designate of the office of Drug Abuse Policy, said Monday that the Carter administration would favor such a move.
Bourne said, without elaboration, that the administration would support legislation similar to a bill introduced by Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Jacob K. Javits (R-N.Y.). That bill would decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, but would impose a civil fine of up to $10. The proposal would not affect penalties for marijuana sale or distribution, nor would it affect state and local marijuana laws.
The vast amount of criminal arrests for marijuana use and possession occur under state statues, according to experts who appeared at the hearings.
The present federal penalty for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is up to one year in jail or a $5,000 fine. The fine can be doubled on a second offenses.
Most of the persons appearing before the House committee said the present law is overly strict and unenforceable. Most of those who opposed because they believe decrminalization would lead to increase use of the drug.
"Federal decriminalization at this point would be unwise," said Eugene Hollingsworth, director of the California Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation and Narcotic Enforcement.
Hollingsworths said California law enforcement officials believe decriminalization "would surely and inevitably lead to further and more widespread" use of marijuana - a drug that he said often "is found in company with and is used and sold in conjunction with other drugs and narcotics."
Hollingsworths' view was challenged by other officials from his state, which has decriminalized the use of marijuana.
Rep. Wolff said his committee will go over all of the testimony and make recommendations for legislation to the House Judiciary and Commerce committees.