D.C. Mayor Gray Supports Tougher Drug Paraphernalia Law

Margaret Summers | 7/17/2013, 3 p.m.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray endorsed strengthening the city's 31-year-old drug paraphernalia law during a combined Ward 7 and Ward 8 ...
Vincent C. Gray (D)

Determined to find solutions, Palmer called Philip Pannell of the Anacostia Coordinating Council and the Congress Heights Civic Association. Pannell suggested leaders from various local government and community health, drug prevention and law enforcement agencies as forum participants. Rosalind Parker, Esq., 44, director of the District of Columbia Prevention Center for Wards 7 and 8, coordinated the event.

Panelist Dionne Reeder, 42, a Ward 8 resident active in the District of Columbia Prevention Center for Wards 7 and 8 and the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Inc., said not all youth in these wards are abusing synthetic drugs. “The time that’s invested in them is what makes the difference. We have to educate them, spend time with them, and invest in them. These are our future leaders.”

Reeder said her agencies see teens daily. “I may be the one person who stands between their talking to me and getting high.”

The forum’s youngest panelist, Chaquan Barbett, 15, a Ward 8 resident and Cesar Chavez Charter School student, shared a story with the audience.

“When one of my friends smoked Scooby Snacks, it made him feel like he was about to die. I don’t use it. I’m an athlete. I play basketball. I’ve seen what it does to my friends.”

Parker announced that additional forums on these issues will be held this year. The event was videotaped by District of Columbia Cable Network, which will air it in the coming weeks.