City of Natchez adopts law making sale of drug paraphernalia illegal

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2021

NATCHEZ — Natchez officials amended a drug paraphernalia ordinance on Tuesday making it illegal for businesses to sell drug paraphernalia inside of city limits.

Offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor and could be fined $500 or be sentenced to no less than 90 days in jail and those who are found selling drug paraphernalia to a person under 18 years old could be sentenced to no less than 30 days in jail, Natchez City Attorney Bryan Callaway said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance is intended to stop the advertisement, display, sale and distribution of drug paraphernalia, he said.

The board voted to adopt the amended ordinance with Aldermen Billie Joe Frazier and Felicia Bridgewater-Irving voting against it. Irving and Frazier said the board should “wait and see” what decision state legislators make in regard to legalizing marijuana use.

“We’re going to have to revisit this in the future anyway because all of this is going to be obsolete,” Frazier said. “We as a board need to wait and see which way the state is going to go before we make a decision ourselves.”

However, Alderwoman Valencia Hall went on to make a motion that the board move forward with adopting the ordinance, which passed 3-2. Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson was absent from Tuesday’s meeting as he was attending a conference in Biloxi. Alderman Dan Dillard, acting as mayor pro tempore, did not vote.

“As far as the state’s stance on medical marijuana, that is in limbo and the government has not called another session to discuss that,” Hall said. “But I think we need to look at this because drugs are rampant in this community. We all know that.”

Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry also noted that marijuana use is currently still illegal in the state and the revised ordinance is also intended to stop the sale of paraphernalia used for other illegal drugs such as methamphetamine and crack cocaine.

Discussions of such an ordinance were spurred not long after law enforcement raided the Shop & Save convenience store on N. Martin Luther King Jr. Street near Cathedral School in June.

During the raid, law enforcement officers seized glass pipes used to smoke methamphetamine, glass pipes used to smoke crack cocaine, digital scales, hundreds of small zip loc bags commonly used to package narcotics, approximately 1 pound of high-grade marijuana and $24,232.00 in U.S. currency and closed the store temporarily.

Three men were also arrested on drug charges, including Xavier Marvel, who was charged with trafficking a schedule I drug for the possession of 79 ecstasy tablets; Nasser Alhumasi for possession of schedule I marijuana with intent to distribute and Kennedy Hussain for sale of schedule I marijuana.

Since the raid, store owners have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Natchez, which is still pending.

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting, the board entered into an executive session, which is closed to the public and to media, to discuss a personnel matters involving the Natchez police and fire departments.

Upon the board’s return to regular session, the board voted unanimously on the termination of a police department and a fire department employee, who were not named.

Officials did not state the reason for terminating two employees in the public meeting.