Smoke shop suits: Good use of time and money?

Ben Shore's picture

Yesterday, City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit against several "smoke shops" for selling "drug paraphernalia for the illicit use of cocaine, crack and methamphetamine." (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/18/BA701HPI6O.DTL) And while at first, that seems like something the City should absolutely take a proactive role in, further investigaton into the story made me think twice. I doubt there are many among us who - at this point - think the "war on drugs" has been a success. So, does devoting the resources, man(and woman)hours  into these suits make sense? The Chron story says that each shop, if found guilty, would face $2,500 in fines for each violation. I know the City needs money, but that's basically chump change compared to our budget deficit. It feels like Herrera is looking to grasp onto an issue here for a political benefit and not so much for a public health/safety one. I personally believe that in the absence of better education and drug rehabilitation and prevention programs, that people will find a way to do drugs even if 6 San Francisco stores no longer sell the glass pipes that Herrera is waging suits against. It's a tough issue, because of course no one could possibly advocate for turning a blind eye while stores sell products used for meth and crack, etc. But again, should we devote the resources that are being used in these cases to education/preventation/rehab instead?

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137