HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council voted in a new paraphernalia ordinance Tuesday night. WDAM takes an inside look at how the conversation started and what this means moving forward.
“In 2017, I began to notice these items were being sold openly in convenience stores," Hattiesburg business owner James Moore said.
In December 2017, WDAM cameras rolling as Moore took these concerns to the Hattiesburg City Council.
“I made them aware that not only in some established head shops in town could you buy these items that are prohibited by state law, but now are being openly sold in the majority of convenience stores in the city," Moore said. "The fake urine that is illegal to have and illegal to posses, but being openly sold at a convenience store on Hardy Street.”
More than a year after the initial meeting, the council voted to establish the new law. It takes effect after July 18th.
“It acknowledges that these items are unlawful to sale under state law, but the approach the city will take to enforcement is that if you choose to saell these in your place of business, they must be out of sight, they must not be self-served, they must require the assistance of an employee," Moore said. "However, if you are within 750 feet of a pre-school, kindergarten, school, university or church, you may not sale them at all.”
Moore said he hopes this new law makes an impact throughout the city.
“The open sale of paraphernalia in our city sends a clear message to the kids that is inconsistent with what we are teaching them at school and at home," Moore said. “We cannot tell them this is bad for you in our homes and in our schools and as a community allow this to be sold openly against state law.”
Under Mississippi state code, paraphernalia is defined as “all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law.”
For an object to be considered paraphernalia, law enforcement or a court must consider statements by an owner of its use or intended use, its proximity to a controlled substance or a controlled substance violation, or if there is residue on the object, among other factors.