City to Store Owner: You May Not Sell Brillo Pads

I expect that such restrictions are not uncommon, but I just noticed them for the first time, in Amina, Inc. v. City of Minneapolis (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2008):

During November 2005, relator applied for grocery, food manufacturing, and tobacco dealer business licenses from respondent to operate a convenience store and deli in North Minneapolis, a location that under its previous owner had “a lengthy history of problems with loitering and drug trafficking.” On December 1, 2005, relator agreed that its licenses would be subject to 11 voluntary conditions. These voluntary conditions included, among other provisions: …

(4) The business agrees not to sell single cigars sometimes referred to as blunts.

(5) The business agrees not to sell items which are commonly used by drug users and drug dealers. These items include glass pipes (sometimes with roses inside), Brillo Pads or Chore Boy, small zip lock bags also known as jewelry bags, dice, single use tobacco products to include rolling papers….

The agreement of the parties stated that relator’s licenses, if granted, were based on these conditions and that failure to comply could result in adverse action, including revocation of its licenses…. Between December 2005 and March 2006, the Minneapolis Police Department responded to several hundred service calls to relator’s store. Most of the calls related to drug activity in front of relator’s store or in its parking lot….

An administrative law judge (ALJ) heard the license revocation matter in August 2006, and concluded that relator violated both the conditions imposed on its licenses and the MCO provisions by selling single cigars and tobacco rolling papers [among other things].

Of course, there are lots of statutes and ordinances banning the sale of products commonly understood to be drug paraphernalia, and more generally the government bans various products in various contexts. But it did seem to me noteworthy that the city was using its powers to ban the sales of products that have ample lawful uses, such as brillo pads, small zip lock bags, and dice.