Muskogee Store Owner Fighting Ordinance Banning Sale Of Incense
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - A Muskogee business owner is fighting a new city ordinance that bans selling products that could be used to make synthetic drugs.
The convenient store owner said he does not support drug use, but he's fighting this ordinance because he says it simply goes against his first amendment rights.
Biren Desai has owned the Muskogee convenience store for nearly a year.
"It was a really run-down business and we really worked hard to re-establish it," Desai said.
For the past few months, he's sold a wide variety of incense, but because of a new city ordinance he's had to limit his supply.
"We sell it for a specific purpose. They're incense. It's an aroma," Desai said.
The City of Muskogee now bans selling anything that could be used to make synthetic drugs.
Assistant City Attorney Matt Beese said more and more kids are getting their hands on things like incense and misusing it.
"We felt, in a way, to protect our citizens in Muskogee, we had to take some action," Beese said.
Since the ingredients that are used to make synthetic drugs are constantly changing, the city decided to take a blanket approach and ban most incense.
Desai has filed a petition against the city, saying this ordinance is preventing him from selling incense that "contains no prohibited or controlled dangerous substances."
"The arguments they made in their petition, we really anticipated all of them," Beese said. "They're not a surprise to us, and we do believe that once this goes to a judge that we're going to come out successful."
"It's my right to oppose what you're saying. It doesn't make me a bad person or an immoral person," Desai said. "What's more dangerous is people thinking that we're drug dealers and we're not."
Desai said he's lost out on a little bit of money since the ordinance went into effect, and he feels he's being punished for something that is beyond his control.
"Tomorrow you could have people buy bleach and they drink the bleach or use it for things that it shouldn't be used for--so, now you're going to ban bleach?" Desai said.
The petition will go before a Muskogee County judge on July 2, 2013.