Last week, the owner of one Parkersburg business and an employee of another were charged with selling so-called drug paraphernalia. But those sales would have been legal, had they been made to the proper age group.
A few years ago, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that laws banning outright the sale of drug paraphernalia were unconstitutional.
"It may have been that it was difficult to determine what is or isn't employed in the use of drugs," says Parkersburg Police Chief Bob Newell. "It may have been a problem with the law, and what it was deemed unconstitutional."
While it might not be logical to some, while the use of certain drugs is illegal, the sale of devices involved in using those drugs isn't. The only exception is the sale to minors.
The stores also have to be licensed by the state, and drug items cannot be sold at outdoor events such as concerts, fairs and festivals. In addition, owners of those stores have to keep records of everyone they sell to.
"If the narcotics and dangerous drugs are illegal," Chief Newell says, "It should be illegal to manufacture aid devices for people who use them. It's ridiculous to have a law against one and not the other. It doesn't really affect our enforcement of drug laws, it probably just affects the convenience of which people can use drugs."
In addition to selling to minors, there are fines levied for selling drug devices without a license. To obtain a license, applicants have to prove they have never been convicted of a drug-related offense.
If convicted, the accused in last week's arrests could get a one-to-five-year prison sentence.