Buckhannon city officials and concerned residents appear to have won a victory this week in their battle to keep synthetic drugs from being sold in their town.
Mom and Pop's Hippy Shop, a store that opened last October on East Main Street - across from City Hall - and sold synthetic drugs, has opted to move its operation to Weston. The move follows Buckhannon City Council's crafting an ordinance to ban the substances from town.
The synthetic drugs are known by harmless-sounding street names such as bath salts, incense and potpourri, but are used to get high.
The relocation of the controversial shop seems directly tied to the proposed ordinance, which came about after months of public talks in Buckhannon on the synthetic drugs issue.
Last April, federal authorities closed the doors of two Hot Stuff and Cool Things' locations in Buckhannon and Clarksburg. The business was alleged to be a major supplier of bath salts and synthetic marijuana, and the owner and several employees were indicted by a federal grand jury.
After Mom and Pop's Hippy Shop came to town in October, Buckhannon residents quickly made their objections to the business known.
In January, Buckhannon City Council announced that it was conducting a study that could lead to controlling synthetic drugs within city boundaries.
John Burrows, a co-owner of Mom and Pop's Hippy Shop, invited council members to visit the store, saying he did not sell the synthetic drugs to underage buyers.
"I will not and have not ever sold anything that's against state law," Burrows said. "I'm trying to follow the law. I'm trying to make a living."
At Buckhannon Council's second meeting in January, residents Amy Satterfield and Christine Bennett urged council to pass an ordinance banning the substances.
"We will not be silent anymore," Bennett said.
"I beg the council to stand up," Summerfield said. "We don't want it in our town. It is not safe. It is killing kids."
On Thursday, Buckhannon Council unanimously passed on its first reading a proposed ordinance banning the sale, possession and use of synthetic drugs within city limits.
Even though the ordinance cannot become law until council votes on its second reading, the proposal itself seems to have been enough to send the Hippy Shop packing. It just shows what a small group of concerned citizens - working with public officials willing to take a stand - can accomplish.
We applaud their efforts, and urge other towns to learn from this example of government and the public working together to combat a common evil.