I worked the night shift Wednesday to cover the Crack Stem Cleanup in Greensboro.
Reporter Eric White and I rode along with the the Greensboro Vice Squad while they eyeballed local convenience stores to make sure they were complying with a new city ordinance that bans the sale of those cute little glass tubes with a flower inside that have been given the nickname "Crack Stems".
According to the Vice Unit the stores weren't just selling this otherwise innocuous novelty, they were actually putting together a handy little dope smoking kit for crackheads and making a huge profit on it.
Over that past 2 years the Greensboro Vice Squad investigated this activity, gathered a ton of evidence through video surveillance and informants and the result was several convenience store owners being charged and convicted for the activity.
This past spring the City passed an ordinance banning the sale of the "Crack Stems" and imposing a $100 civil penalty for each violation. I.E., $100 per "Crack Stem".
Fast forward to today....
Following state ABC laws the Vice unit along with state ABC and ALE agents conducted surprise inspections on 7 random stores that have been known documented to sell the "Crack Stem" kits.
The law governing establishments that have ABC permits gives the authorities the right to conduct these surprise inspections and the right to search every inch of the place up, down, left, right and inside out if needed.
We followed along and gathered our news video of the process.
The result, No "Crack Stems" found.
The reaction, gratification. The cops were very pleased with the outcome. They call this is evidence that the ordinance has teeth.
It has at least made it difficult for crackheads to get their buzz on.
The cops did stumble across a few gems while on this search for the crack stems.
At one store they found two bullet proof vests and a rifle with the serial numbers filed off.
At another store there was a video gaming machine in a bathroom. It was the 4th machine in the store and, as we were told by the ABC agent, the state limits stores to 3 machines, that the machine in question is a e-slot machine(not legal in NC) and we witnessed that the other machines had $20 bills in them from people playing just for 'fun'. Yeah right!
For more information on the these items visit Ben Holder's blog, The Greensboro Troublemaker. Ben also rode along on the "Crack Stem" cleanup and has several posts about the days findings. Ben had a lot to do with the "crack stem" ordinance being passed and has put a lot of leg work into this effort.