What is Drug Paraphernalia and is Possessing it a Crime?

Did you know that you can be charged for a drug crime for merely possessing products, equipment or tools that are related to illegal drug activities? Perhaps this seems obvious, such as in the case of there being actual drugs present, or for items that have a sole purpose for nothing other than illegal drug activities. However, the list for what can be considered a drug activity, or what products can be tied to drugs, or deemed “drug paraphernalia” is quite long. While this may not seem like a particular threat to most people not engaging in drug activities, it can cause problems for people in proximity to or who have some relationship to a person getting busted for drugs, even if they are innocent.

a pipe used for smoking marijuana lying on a mossy rock. Pipes are a form of drug paraphernalia

What Constitutes a Drug Violation?

Before addressing what items may be considered drug paraphernalia, it would first help to list all the activities the government may deem a violation of the Controlled Substance Act. This list is quite long, including all the following related to controlled substances:

  • Planting: The act of placing seeds, bulbs or plants that are used in production of a controlled substance, in the ground.
  • Propagating: Breeding living specimens (e.g. plants, fungus) that are used to create controlled substances.
  • Cultivating: preparing land and soil for the growth of plants.
  • Growing: feeding and caring for live specimens.
  • Harvesting: Gathering and removing live specimens such as crops from their cultivated or natural environment.
  • Manufacturing: production of goods through the use of labor, machines, tools, or biological processing.
  • Compounding: Combining ingredients to form a different substance.
  • Converting: converting a substance from one to another through a physical or chemical process.
  • Producing: creating a substance by any means.
  • Processing: Engaging in any step of producing a substance.
  • Preparing: readying a substance for processing or production.
  • Testing: Conducting trials to measure the quality, performance or reliability of a substance.
  • Analyzing: reviewing the results of testing on a substance.
  • Packaging, Containing, and Repackaging: placing the substance in containers.
  • Storing: Moving substance or packaged substances into a storage.
  • Concealing: Hiding the substances from plain-sight.
  • Consuming: injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing the substance into the human body.

The above is certainly a long list of very specific terms, but it just goes to show how specific the government has become in dealing with these cases to make it very difficult to find any loopholes or prove that the activity was not criminal. As you can probably already, with items on this list such as packaging, storing, and testing, there can be so many products that can be used to do these things that have no specific relationship to controlled substances. This brings us to the very long and non-exhaustive list of possible “drug paraphernalia” items.

Potential Drug Paraphernalia Items

Drug paraphernalia includes, but is not limited to:

  • Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, and mixing devices for compounding controlled substances.
  • Capsules, balloons, envelopes, and other containers for packaging small quantities of controlled substances.
  • Containers or other objects for storing or concealing controlled substances.
  • Hypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects for injecting controlled substances into the body.
  • Isomerization devices for increasing potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance.
  • Kits for planting, propagating, cultivating, growing or harvesting any species of plant that is a controlled substance or a controlled substance can be derived.
  • Kits for manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, or preparing controlled substances.
  • Objects for consuming controlled substances such as pipes, bowls, bongs, and carburetor tubes and devices.
  • Scales and balances for weighing and measuring substances.
  • Separation gins and sifters for removing twigs and seeds from, or otherwise cleaning or refining, marijuana.
  • Testing equipment for identifying or analyzing the strength of effectiveness of controlled substances.

As we mentioned earlier, this is a long list that includes items that may have little to do with drugs, given the circumstances, which raises a lot of cocerns.

Can I Get Busted for Drug Paraphernalia Over a Blender?

So, does this mean you can get in trouble for simply possessing things like kitchen scales or blenders? The answer is generally no, and you should always be protecting your right against unlawful search and seizure, but there are cases that can raise such concerns. Most notably is when somebody you live with gets busted for drug activity, and you are caught in the crossfire. If you do end up in such a scenario, it’s important to not panic and follow best practices for dealing with the police, do not speak to them with an experienced attorney.

If you ever end up in this situation it can certainly be frustrating, as it is whenever you get arrested for doing nothing wrong, but it is absolutely crucial to remain as calm and collected as possible. Why?  The punishment for being in possession of drug paraphernalia is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is not great but can be fought with relative ease by an experienced attorney. If you try to find with the police, or talk too much and self-incriminate, you can quickly face much more severe consequences, including attempts to tie you to a more serious drug offense. No matter how ridiculous the charge seems or how easily you think you can argue your innocence, the best thing to do in any such situation is acquire legal representation to speak on your behalf.

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