Duck sets Aug 2. public hearing to define ‘drug paraphernalia sales’

By on July 7, 2023

CBD is legal in all 50 states. (Shutterstock)

At its July 5 meeting, the Duck Town Council voted 5-0 to schedule an Aug. 2 public hearing on a zoning amendment that would define “drug paraphernalia sales” for the purposes of determining how much paraphernalia a business would be allowed to sell if it wanted to operate in the town.

The Town of Duck already prohibits “drug paraphernalia sales” as a retail use, but adding a definition would give the Town planning board and staff guidance in determining whether such items comprise an “incidental” or “significant part of sales for the store,” Town Attorney Robert Hobbs explained during the July 5 meeting.

State statutes define drug paraphernalia but leave room for individual municipalities to determine how to regulate those businesses, Hobbs said.

In the past year, a few new businesses have contacted Duck Town staff about selling items that would be considered drug paraphernalia, “which includes equipment, products and materials designed or intended to introduce controlled substances into the human body,” according to the July 5 meeting agenda packet for the Duck Town Council.

Examples of drug paraphernalia include pipes, bongs, rolling paper, small spoons and roach clips, according to the meeting packet, which noted: “It was challenging for staff to interpret and define what type and how many of these items would constitute a drug paraphernalia business.”

Duck Director of Community Development Joe Heard told the Voice that “after analyzing the lists of products” that the new businesses would sell, Town staff determined that neither were drug paraphernalia businesses, so they were permitted as retail uses.

The two businesses were Wake Up OBX—which Heard said first contacted Duck in January 2022. It opened that May in the Scarborough Lane Shopping Center and closed sometime before this summer. The second, CBDuck OBX, just opened July 1 in the Loblolly Pines Shopping Center in Duck.

CBDuck OBX is “an upscale wellness center…for people with pain and anxiety and for their animals with pain and anxiety,” Anne Evans explained in a phone call with the Voice. Evans is training under her niece, Crystall Sucher, to be the store manager.

The store sells all natural, organic, made-in-the-United-States products—ranging from coffees and face creams to edibles and dog biscuits—and the average clientele demographic is ages 50-65, Evans said.

Her son Jeremy Evans, a Raleigh resident, co-owns the store with Sucher’s mother, who lives in Virginia.

“The Town of Duck was very strict with what we could or could not have,” Evans said. “They did not want any sort of head shop culture image here at all. It’s very upscale, and the things that we sell, they’re not for smoking.”

The main differences, Sucher said, are that she can sell the hemp plant’s flower in Virginia, but not in Duck; and in Duck, she must keep anything with THC out of customers’ reach, behind the counter.

Hemp is a cannabis plant with less than 3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive component of the plant. CBD (cannabidiol), another component of the plant, is legal in all 50 states and is derived from the hemp plant or manufactured in laboratories.

According to the proposed text amendment that Hobbs drafted, in addition to the state statute’s definition of drug paraphernalia, the Town will determine “whether a business enterprise is engaging in drug paraphernalia sales” by “direct or circumstantial relevant evidence” of two factors: The ratio of such sales to the business’ total sales and the quantity of objects physically on display and in stock with the total merchandise on display and in stock.

At its June 14 meeting, Duck Planning Board members had a long discussion on the topic and wanted to see exact ratios, percentages or figures included in the definition, but they approved the proposed text amendment.

At the July 5 council meeting, Heard told the members that the proposed ordinance is “not as detailed as we would like…but that’s just not the way that the case law and other stuff is set up.”


  • Luminous

    Really?? This is a key issue for the Town of Duck? Is it more important than traffic, over-development, and rising water?

    I haven’t used weed or any other illegal drug in, well, decades anyway, and am not about to restart–I’ve got enough cognitive impairment without it–but I’d guess many other Bankers would agree with this suggestion to Duck: “Lighten Up, Francis.” People who want to be able to buy drug paraphernalia in Duck should be able to. It has legal uses and even medical uses unrelated to marijuana. Just because it can be used illegally doesn’t mean you need to wade in here. Take a chill pill.

    Friday, Jul 7 @ 5:52 pm
  • Charles

    “Papers for rolling”… drug paraphernalia whether or not the store also sells “Prince Albert in a Can”?

    Friday, Jul 7 @ 6:05 pm
  • surf123

    @Luminous…you are spot on. Way too many other concerns with the most important being traffic. This is nothing more than a bunch of Karen’s trying to stop people from doing what is legal in many places. I don’t care for the appearance and signage around these stores, but I would never want to restrict someone from selling legal products. The government should never be in the business of choosing winners and losers. We have already tried prohibition for alcohol and the drug war and lost both or them. No need to repeat history.

    Friday, Jul 7 @ 10:14 pm
  • Dr Rob Jr

    Rising water? As in water rates?

    Saturday, Jul 8 @ 6:47 am
  • Pj

    They have a ABC store…much more dangerous to the community than a head shop…enough said.

    Saturday, Jul 8 @ 6:54 am
  • M

    I agree with Luminous, Duck needs to focus on traffic which they haven’t done in years, that’s a real safety hazard since emergency vehicles can’t get through the worsening congestion caused by their crosswalks. Duck Rd. has been backed up all week and is always a mess on rainy days; have a meeting about that, again! The Powers that be running our local Governments have ruined the Outer Banks, very sad.

    Saturday, Jul 8 @ 8:20 am
  • Tom Paine

    M, at least emergency vehicles can use the turning lane to get through the town if traffic is backed up both ways. Oh wait I forgot about their “landscaped” medians.

    Sunday, Jul 9 @ 4:04 pm