An item that's popped up at gas stations was being used to make paraphernalia for crack cocaine, an I-Team investigation found.
The device looks like a little flower that could be turned into a crack pipe.
"I would never have thought that," said Donna Rich of Wethersfield, "because it's not anything we're really ever exposed to."
The I-Team sent an undercover producer and photographer to a Sunoco Gas Station on the Berlin Turnpike in Wethersfield. They said they discovered just how easy it was to buy the pipe and a filter.
The camera caught the "flowers" right out on the front counter.
The clerk was seen rolling a filter out of a cut-up sponge, similar to a Brillo Pad. It cost about $1.50 for everything but the drug itself.
When asked if he knew what the item was, he denied it.
"I don't know nothing about anything," the clerk said.
After purchasing the pipe, the I-Team returned to the store to talk to the clerk.
"Please don't get me involved," he said. "I have no idea what goes on."
The clerk wouldn't talk about the purchase, but a toxicologist from Hartford Hospital said the sale of the paraphernalia is inviting drug activity into our communities.
"It's very dangerous because it's bringing accessibility of drugs to the local neighborhoods," said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor of Hartford Hospital.
Police told the I-Team that it's perfectly legal to buy drug paraphernalia at the same place one might buy a gallon of milk.
"The paraphernalia can be sold on a retail level for several reasons, in that they are not in proximity to the controlled substance," said Lt. Scott Custer of the South Windsor Police Department.
Custer said that as long as the actual drug was not anywhere near the pipe and the retailer does not say what the product is designed for, retailers and consumers are in the clear.
Many people the I-Team spoke with said they were shocked that the law does not keep these items off of store shelves.
"It's just something that someone can access so easily for such a dangerous substance," Rich said, "especially with young people."
Doctors and police agreed that if parents found their children with a "flower", they should be sure to take it away and have an age-appropriate discussion about the dangers of drugs.
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