Authorities wary of new pipe and tobacco shop

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — The Dymka Shop on Lower Woodville Road had a quiet grand opening this week, but its wide selection of tobacco water pipes, hookahs and sex toys has prompted public outcry.

Both the Natchez Police Department and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office are investigating whether particular goods at the new pipe, tobacco and adult novelty shop are legal to sell.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said Friday the ACSO and NPD launched an investigation into The Dymka Shop approximately two weeks ago, before it officially opened for business. The shop sells tobacco water pipes that bear a striking resemblance to a bong, which is generally used to smoke marijuana. A sign posted above the pipes states, “These are called tobacco water pipes.”

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Another sign, also posted above the pipes, states, “Stop. Think about this. If it rhymes with CHONG we do not sell it. And would appreciate it if you DIDN’T talk about it.”

A third sign states, “Do not mention any illegal substances. If you do, all sales may be refused to you and your party.”

Finally, a fourth sign states, “All devices sold by The Dymka Shop that are designed for smoking are intended for use with tobacco and legal herbal blends only.”

Metro Narcotics Commander David Lindsey said local authorities have contacted the state attorney general’s office for legal guidance.

“The owner told us he’s selling under the presumption people will be using alternative tobacco products,” Lindsey said. “But in my experience and training, (the pipes) are used with illegal narcotics rather than legal tobacco sources.”

Repeated attempts to reach The Dymka Shop owner Barrett Moffett Friday were unsuccessful.

Mayfield said the sale of the pipes and alternative herbal incense only exacerbates Adams County’s existing drug problem.

“My main thing is everybody knows there’s a problem with drugs in our community, and I’m not going to sit back and let a place facilitate the use of drugs, and that’s what it is,” Mayfield said.

“Obviously we’re not anti-business. We’re anti-illegal business.”

Mayfield said state law defines “drug paraphernalia” as products that are used or designed for use in ingesting or inhaling controlled substances. Such paraphernalia includes, but is not limited to, water pipes or bongs.

However, according to Mississippi Code 41-29-105, in determining whether an object is paraphernalia, a court or other authority should consider statements by an owner or anyone in control of the object concerning use, the proximity of the object to controlled substances and the existence of any residue of controlled substances on the object, to name a few.

Mayor Jake Middleton said Police Chief Mike Mullins planned to visit The Dymka Shop Friday morning. Middleton said he has not visited the shop.

“Everybody’s working to make sure it’s within the law, and if it’s not, we’ll deal with it,” he said.

Repeated attempts to reach Mullins were unsuccessful.

David Holland, who serves as landlord of the shopping center where The Dymka Shop is located, declined comment.

Patrons must be 18 years old to enter The Dymka Shop, and 21 years old to browse its adult novelty section, which is located behind a ropes curtain toward the back of the shop.

Brenda Williams, owner of Ja’Nel’s Flowers and Gifts located next to The Dymka Shop, said she’s wary of the shop’s image among families that frequent other business located in the shopping center.

“I do have some concerns and reservations about the image that might be perceived about the atmosphere of this shopping complex,” Williams said.

“I think that advertising that they are an adult novelty store could put a parent in a situation if the child asks, ‘Mommy, what’s an adult novelty?’”