Smokers Town vape shop opened in Five Points over the summer. The store might not have been able to open if proposed city rules were in place now.
The city of Columbia’s Public Safety Committee has approved new rules for vape shops as well as precautionary signage for CBD and THC products.
Both proposals were approved unanimously by committee members Howard Duvall, Joe Taylor and Tina Herbert. That puts the regulations one step closer to final approval.
Duvall proposed an ordinance requiring all vape shops to be farther than 1,000 feet from another vape shop, and from any K-12 schools, churches or other public spaces.
The proposal is aimed at Five Points, Duvall said. He said Five Points residents have complained about the types of stores opening up in the area.
“We want to make sure that we are putting good merchants in there that would be attractive to Five Points, which needs to have the village feel to it,” Duvall said. “And I think that these ordinances will certainly help.”
Duvall’s ordinance defines vape shops as establishments that sell alternative nicotine products, vape products, tobacco products, cigarettes, cigars and products that are smoked or inhaled and contain cannabis and smoking paraphernalia.
“We’ve been through several years of trying to reduce the bars in Five Points,” Duvall said, “And now we’re replacing the bars with vape shops and CBD shops and (they bring the) same clientele.”
Latrell Jamison, an employee at Smokers Town, one of the newest Five Points vape shops, said bars and vape shops try to locate near the large number of students in the area.
“What else (are) they going to put down here in the college town?” Jamison said.
He acknowledged that there are a lot of vape shops in Five Points but said some of them have shifted their products to include clothing to be able to compete with the saturated market.
The vape shop has had no shortage of business since opening over the summer, Jamison said.
“Everybody loves it here,” he said.
The committee unanimously approved to send the vape shop ordinance to the Planning Commission, which would amend the city’s zoning codes to include the new rules if the commission approves it. The proposed rules for locating a vape shop would go into effect right away.
Separately, Taylor proposed a plan requiring any store that sells products that contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to include warning signs for consumers. The signage is to inform buyers that “consumption or use of Cannabis Products may cause a person to fail a workplace drug screening test,” according to the proposal.
“I’m seeing just tragedy after tragedy around Columbia, where folks don’t understand that it’s going to be legal, but it can still cause you to fail a drug test, which can cost you your job,” Taylor said.
Jamison agreed that it’s important that users of THC products know the risks of partaking in the substance.
“People got to know that if you smoke it, it’s going to show up in your drug test so, either way, they should know that,” he said. “If we put a sign up, it’s just extra precaution.”
The ordinance states that the warning signs for the THC products must be at least 50% of the size of the product’s marketing sign.
The committee unanimously approved Taylor’s ordinance. It now advances to City Council, which is set to take it up next week.