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Up in Smoke

posted: 10/29/2001
by David Gonzales

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Joe Egolf -- maybe too strong. After founding locals' favorite Joe's Pizza, Egolf opened a head shop last spring in Jackson; but his PR campaign might have been a bit overzealous. On March 28, the Jackson Hole Newspublished a front-page article about Egolf's efforts to make his shop legal. Entitled "I Fought the Law..." the story was accompanied by a photo of Egolf surrounded by various "glass products." The story and photo incensed many residents, and within 14 hours, the Teton County Division of Criminal Investigations secured a search warrant and raided the shop, confiscating Egolf's pipes.

Egolf maintained his merchandise was for tobacco use only, but county prosecutor Steve Weichman didn't buy it. "Everybody knows what a bong is," Weichman told the News for its follow-up article (entitled, of course, "And the Law Won?"). Though Egolf wasn't arrested or cited, the DCI's move effectively shut him down. Only by suing the state and contesting the DCI's actions in court could Egolf get his pipes back. Unable to pay both legal fees and rent on an empty shop, Egolf closed his doors, thus ensuring that western-Wyoming weed lovers continue to smoke out of beer cans.

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