The Ontario Safety League wants to have pipes and other drug paraphernalia removed from convenience store shelves.
According to OSL president Brian Patterson, convenience stores are openly selling pipes, grinders and other paraphernalia clearly intended for smoking illegal drugs.
In a press release, the group revealed that nearly 50 pieces of drug paraphernalia were acquired at different convenience stores in Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Mississauga, Brampton, Windsor, London, St. Catharines, Guelph, Cornwall and Ottawa.
"It is irresponsible and illegal for corner stores to openly sell items that enable drug use right beside candy, milk and magazines," said Patterson. "The blatant promotion of pipes and bongs used to smoke marijuana or crack cocaine sends our kids the message that illegal drug use is acceptable."
While Patterson said the items are still illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada, head shops specializing in paraphernalia designed for tobacco consumption have been legally operating in Ontario for years.
"To some degree the police have been able to deal with (head shops) reasonably well, but I think the person that enters a head shop knowingly to by drug paraphernalia, that's a lot different than kids ... going into a variety store and being exposed to this stuff in the store and giving it that sort of mainstream appeal," said Patterson.
The Ontario Safety League is currently circulating a petition and is asking the public to report any convenience stores selling inappropriate drug paraphernalia in their neighbourhood.
"Bottom line, selling drug paraphernalia is illegal and we’re calling on convenience stores to say ‘Not at My Store’ and completely remove these products from their shelves," said Patterson.
But according to Sgt. Matthew D'Asti of the Windsor Police Service, most convenience store owners say the items are for tobacco use.
Police understand items like bongs and pipes have a dual use, but unless police can prove they're being used to consume drugs, there's little that can be done, he said.