"People can make [a device] out of anything," Capt. Mark Mayton, commander for the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, said. "You'd be surprised."
A quest through any Internet search engine for "homemade smoking devices" returns more than 4 million hits ranging from YouTube videos showing people how to make bongs for marijuana use to photos and written instructions.
One of those videos offers a step-by-step guide on how to make a "bubbler" out of a bell pepper in less than three minutes. A Google photo illustrates a young man smoking from a clarinet that had been modified to serve as a pipe while another shows a Mr. Potato Head toy with a straw in his mouth to be used as a pipe.
Hollow devices designed to look like cigarettes are common pipes sold as "one-hitters," according to users who wished to remain anonymous. "They're small and easy to hide," said one man, "but you don't get much from it."
"We find things from sockets and tools to light bulbs," Mayton said. "But the biggest problem with the smoking devices is it's hard to preserve them for evidence to send to the crime lab. Also, when they use glass, it's hard because we have to be safe to not cut or contaminate ourselves."
Many convenience stores sell smoking pipes that appear to be for illegal use. Some stores place a sign near the items saying that they are for "tobacco use only." Mayton said the devices can be sold legally as novelty items.
"They say they're not intended for illegal diversions," he said, "but I'm afraid they do use them as diversions and for illegal drugs."
Smoking devices are commonly used for marijuana, but they can be utilized for methamphetamine and cocaine.
"That's the three most common drugs," Mayton said. "Sometimes you'll see Brillo pads near the smoking devices because that can be used as a filter for cocaine."
The Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force works to keep drug activity and trafficking down in the area and tips may be called into the Cartersville-Bartow Crime Stoppers at 770-606-8477.