By: Victoria Handysides

Mar. 3, 2009

A county councillor has given the green light to a new crop of pot gear pushers that have moved into town, applauding efforts to smokescreen products from children.

Chad Wentworth, the owner of the newly opened Chad Smokeshop 420 in the Baseline Crossing shopping centre, poses with some of his extensive inventory. He also has stores in Olds, Leduc, and Brooks, Alta. County councillors are giving him no hassle, as he prohibits minors from entering his store and has frosted glass on his storefront.

The frosted windows of The Chad Smokeshop 420 combined with strict legal age enforcement and a location on Sherwood Park’s main commercial drag are enough to make narcotic naysayer Coun. Jason Gariepy nod in approval.

“In an ideal world, there would be no need for drug paraphernalia,” he said. “But, seeing that those products are legal, if there is a way for those items to be sold, this is probably the best way.”

Gariepy recently publicly bashed a Sherwood Park convenience store pushing pipes and bongs along with Slurpees, magazines and candy.

The pot leaf emblazoned shop is in close proximity to two schools and advertises smoking accessories on a roadside sign. Owners admittedly sell pipes to teenagers 16 and older, and operate a Facebook page befriended predominantly by teens.

Gariepy is exploring legal implications of a brewing bylaw proposal that, if passed, will restrict the sale of drug paraphernalia within close proximity to schools, arenas and transit stations.

“I’m very opposed to pipe and bong stores being disguised as neighbourhood convenience stores,” Coun. Gariepy said. “If you’re a standalone store, follow good business practices and restrict access to kids that’s appropriate.”

The Park’s newest head shop was designed with discretion, owners said.

“We didn’t want to interfere with anyone,” said owner Chad Wentworth. “We went about it in a professional way. We’re not just some cheap store that threw some products in it hoping to make it.”

All employees at each of Wentworth’s four Alberta stores take Alberta Tobacco Act tests before starting work, he added.

Gariepy’s proposal to council will likely be ready within 30 days, he said.