Duck approves measure defining ‘drug paraphernalia sales’ 

By on August 8, 2023

Amendment may still require judgment calls by Town staff

(Shutterstock)

With an apparent eye toward the increasing number of businesses that sell the products, the Duck Town Council voted unanimously on Aug. 2 to approve an amendment to the zoning ordinance that defines “drug paraphernalia sales” to help determine how much of these products a business would be allowed to sell.

At the Aug. 2 meeting, Duck Director of Community Development Joe Heard told the council that the definition is designed “to define when a business is just selling a few of these items and when it becomes a drug paraphernalia business.”

The amendment, drafted by Town Attorney Robert Hobbs, identifies criteria for measuring the extent of drug paraphernalia being sold at a business—the ratio of drug paraphernalia sales to total sales of the business as well as the quantity of drug paraphernalia on display and in stock as a portion of the total merchandise on hand.

But as Heard explained in an email to the Voice, “There are no specific ratios or percentages outlined in the adopted ordinance drafted by the Town Attorney,” that would establish definitively when a business is selling too much paraphernalia. “It is a step in the right direction,” he added.  “But there will still be some judgment and interpretation of individual situations required by my staff and me.”

Businesses primarily engaged in drug paraphernalia sales are outlawed in any zoning district in Duck. At a July 5 Duck Council meeting, Hobbs explained that state statutes define drug paraphernalia. but leave room for individual municipalities to determine how to regulate those businesses.

Heard’s presentation to the council on Aug. 2 indicated that the issue arose when town staff was contacted by two companies about selling some items as part of a larger business that would be considered drug paraphernalia.  Paraphernalia, the presentation stated, “includes equipment, products and materials designed or intended to introduce controlled substances into the human body.” The amendment approved by the council lists a number of items considered paraphernalia—ranging from syringes to cocaine spoons to roach clips.

The two businesses that were allowed to operate in Duck are Wake Up, which opened in May 2022 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.

While no members of the public spoke during the scheduled Aug. 2 public hearing on the amendment, several of the council members did pose questions.

One of them, Tony Schiano, asked, “What would happen if we said “no, you can’t sell any of it [paraphernalia], doesn’t matter what percentage it is?’”

Hobbs responded that such an all-out ban would present “a difficult enforcement situation for Town staff…The goal would be to have a minimal tolerance, not a zero tolerance.”


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Comments

  • Charles

    What about “cigarette papers”? Are they drug paraphernalia whether or not the individual owner also has a can of Prince Albert smoking tobacco? What about a hand operated cigarette rolling device? Corncob pipe?

    Tuesday, Aug 8 @ 4:32 pm
  • Rob Martenis

    Best I can tell, if any of the “paraphernalia” items that can also be used to introduce tobacco products into the body they are “hands-off” and legal to sell. Also syringes are available over the counter at Walmart and Walgreens and such as long as they are behind the counter. Good luck trying to establish specific ratios and percentages when trying to “define drug paraphernalia sales” vs. the sales of other items in a Duck retail establishment. And who is going to keep those records? More paper work is just what the town needs…and Bob Hobbs should know better…

    Tuesday, Aug 8 @ 4:49 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Rob, as the story indicates, they aren’t setting specific ratios or percentages.

    Tuesday, Aug 8 @ 9:36 pm
  • Nicole

    This is an absolutely ridiculous topic for the council to discuss. Why not discuss the more dire situations that are impacting the town like the traffic situation especially the need for crosswalk restructuring. There is a need for the Town of Duck to get their heads out of the sand and finally put a plan into place to figure out a solution to this crisis. What is in place is not working and has created a monster of chaos especially on the weekends causing major backups and possible harm to the pedestrians. But you’re worried about shops selling non THC gummies? Make it make sense..please start a conversation on how to correct the crosswalk issue. There is a solution, you just have to make it happen. Thank you

    Tuesday, Aug 8 @ 9:58 pm
  • Surf123

    The government picking winners and losers is not good for anyone. Looking forward to the lawsuits that hopefully crush the towns coffers.

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 7:29 am
  • Gwalt

    I’m not sure I truly understand the point. Is this supposed to prevent people from using drugs or keep riff-raff out of the neighborhood? Why does anyone really care what a store is selling?If you don’t like what they’re selling don’t give them your business. If you’re worried about kids having access, hate to tell ya, but they’ll find a way. They always do.

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 9:52 am
  • Lisa

    I find it interesting that we want to sell some level of drug paraphernalia while the police are charging people with “possession of drug paraphernalia- ex. at Southern Shores this week. Drugs aren’t legal in NC, so what is the purpose? Extra tax money?

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 9:57 am
  • Sandflea

    Seems all the uppity Duckwad folks spend sleepless nights worrying about keeping other people off of “their beaches” (that they expect others to pay for beach nourishment), and telling others what they can or cannot sell (I smell lawsuits).
    I guess the powers that be just don’t have the intellectual resources or educational backgrounds to deal with real problems such as traffic and crosswalk problems. Lawsuits seem to get these folks attention as $$$$$ is the only thing they care about and respond to.

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 11:52 am
  • Steven

    Towns north of Duck are not Duck’s problem and they should not have to accommodate. Yet Duck certainly does suffer because of those towns.
    The crosswalks are not the issue folks..

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 1:14 pm
  • Rob Martenis

    Hi Mark… According to the article, Hobbs says: A) The amendment, drafted by Town Attorney Robert Hobbs, identifies criteria for measuring the extent of drug paraphernalia being sold at a business—the ratio of drug paraphernalia sales to total sales of the business as well as the quantity of drug paraphernalia on display and in stock as a portion of the total merchandise on hand.
    And Heard says: B) But as Heard explained in an email to the Voice, “There are no specific ratios or percentages outlined in the adopted ordinance drafted by the Town Attorney (Hobbs?),” that would establish definitively when a business is selling too much paraphernalia.
    Confusing indeed. Cheers!

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 2:03 pm
  • Just a mom

    All I want to say is I LOATHE ENTIRELY
    the stink of pot!
    I think I made get just start driving down the road with bottled dead raccoon stench and spray it so the people behind me driving can get them some!
    Keep your rank sh.. to yourself!
    Or get them to make some sort of all enclosed charcoal filter paraphernalia to scrub the stench before it reaches my car.
    After all, pretty sure a big issue with today is that people aren’t taught what we all understood growing up… you are only as free as to not infringe upon someone else’s freedom.
    I am no longer free to drive or walk or go anywhere without getting at least a sinus full of stink or a possible contact high. Little kids don’t deserve to smell it either!

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 4:35 pm