D.C. Council member seeks to ban single-sale cigars to curb drug use

After the D.C. City Council banned the single sale of certain types of alcohol last year, one council member is trying to tackle drug issues in the District using the same method.

Councilwoman Yvette M. Alexander, D-Ward 7, introduced a bill last week that would prohibit the sale of individual cigars, which Alexander’s office said are usually used to smoke marijuana, at small retail establishments.

Commonly referred to as “blunts,” the small cigars are purchased and then emptied of tobacco. The leftover shell is then filled with marijuana and resealed.

Forcing customers to buy cigars by the box instead of singles will make it more difficult for D.C. residents to purchase the cigars, decreasing the probability they might be used for illicit purposes, Alexander’s Legislative Director Ed Fisher said.

Alexander’s bill would also “bring more awareness to drug paraphernalia laws, which are not being strongly enforced,” Fisher said. The bill would not only make getting access to these cigars more difficult, but also raise awareness overall of the drug laws D.C. tends to be lenient toward, he added.

Variations of this policy are already in place in areas like Philadelphia and Prince George’s County, Md.

Fisher called last year’s ban on certain single sales of alcohol a success and seemed confident the current bill would have a similar outcome.

“We have already seen the effects and they have been positive,” he said, referring to the alcohol policy.

Dave Bassu, manager of the 7-Eleven adjacent to campus on New Hampshire Avenue, said he does not see blunts as a particularly popular commodity.

“This 7-Eleven doesn’t sell very much of them,” Bassu said, adding that any ban on the single sale of blunts would not have much effect on his business.

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