A TINY SPOON dangles from the chain around Joe Cool's neck. On Suzie Cool's necklace is a gold razor. The very chic message for the in crowd is that Joe and Suzie use cocaine. On Tuesday, the Prince George's County Council voted to ban the sale of razors, spoons and other drug paraphernalia popular with Joe and Suzie's crowd. Drug paraphernalia was defined by the council as any item that could be used for "inhaling, smoking or administering into the body illegal drugs." Council members said they did not want county children subjected to the lure of such devices, which can encourage a cult of drug use. The council is also seeking County Executive Lawrence Hogan's signature on a bill to make it illegal to possess drug accessories.
The council's heart is in the right place. But its actions amount to little more than doing something to avoid having done nothing. Prohibiting the sale of drug-related implements does not deal with the real problem: the illegal use of drugs, particulary by youths. The council seems to be hoping that any doubts a youngster has about the illegality of drugs will be removed when he learns that drug aids cannot be bought in stores because they are illegal -- as illegal as drugs.
The council is touching on a good point. For some drug users, notably teen-agers, drugs and drug accessories amount to a fun-and-games hobby.The legal availability of drug paraphernalia can encourage that hobby.
The problem with the council's actions is that items that can be used with drugs are so many and varied that they cannot all be outlawed. The razor blade popular with cocaine users may be gilded and hung from a chain, but it is still a razor blade. There is no doubt, however, that some boutiques and shops cater to customers who intend to use drugs. Banning these stores would be difficult, but it would serve a good purpose. However, banning the sale or possession of a slew of everyday items is going too far. It invites misuse of the law and harassment of citizens innocently possessing an item like cigarett papers. Something should probably be done about the problem of enticing drug paraphernalia, and the council is to be commended for recognizing the callenge. But the council's final actions do not seem to be the answer.