A rose is a rose, unless it's a meth pipe - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

A rose is a rose, unless it's a meth pipe

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Convenience stores sell it as a novelty idea, but is that just a smokescreen for the "I Love You Rose" -- a small plastic flower in a tiny glass vase with a hole on top?

"This is drug paraphernalia," said Dr. Jason Fields, who works at DACCO, a drug treatment center in Tampa. "No doubt about it."

Dr. Fields, an addiction specialist, says the most popular use of the item is a meth pipe.

"The user would put it in a reservoir down here and heat up with a lighter or another device to a liquid. That melts the crystallized form of the drug so that it vaporizes and can be inhaled and they can smoke the meth."

We found the rose pipe, which is made in China, for sale throughout the Tampa Bay area, selling for between $4.99 and $6.99.

FOX 13 went undercover and bought pipes at various stores in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties. Most of the time, the clerk hid it behind the counter until we asked for it.

"That's what really bothered me," said Ellen Snelling with the nonprofit group, the Hillsborough County Drug Alliance. "If you are selling a gift, you would keep it on top of the counter so people could see it and buy it."

Snelling was surprised at how easy it was for us to buy it and even more surprised by her own experience at a convenience store in Pasco County.

"I just said, 'Do you have any small glass tubes with a flower in it?' And she knew exactly what I was talking about," said Snelling. "It was kept underneath the counter and you couldn't even see it. I just wanted to look at it and the next thing I know she had charged me for it."

Is there anything illegal about selling it? Under Florida's new drug paraphernalia law, in most cases it's legal. According to the state statute, the clerk must know the person buying it intends to use it as a pipe for it to be illegal.

Every store clerk we bought one from claimed they knew nothing about its use as a drug pipe.

Dr. Fields isn't buying that.

"Crystal meth is an epidemic, especially in east Hillsborough Country. It's a significant number of our residential admissions for men and women.

"It's a drug pipe."

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