What is drug paraphernalia?

Most people know that the possession of drugs like heroin, marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics can land a person in jail if convicted of the crime. What many people are not aware of, though, is that possessing drug paraphernalia — items related to drugs — can also get one into trouble with the law. Indeed, it is important that Maryland residents familiarize themselves with what kinds of drug paraphernalia are illegal in order to avoid getting arrested for inadvertently possessing such paraphernalia.

Federal drug paraphernalia laws and state drug paraphernalia laws tend to differ from each other. Under federal law, it is illegal to sell drug paraphernalia. Under federal statutes, it is also illegal to mail drug paraphernalia from state to state, and to import and export drug paraphernalia. In certain states, it is illegal to possess specific drug paraphernalia items.

Determining if a particular item is classifiable as drug paraphernalia can be subject to legal debate. Sometimes, for example, an item like a pipe could be used to smoke drugs just as easily as it could be used to smoke tobacco. If the prosecution cannot prove that the pipe was used to smoke anything more than tobacco then it is not likely that a person in possession of the pipe will be convicted of drug paraphernalia possession. Under certain circumstances, even a spoon could be considered drug paraphernalia if it was used to consume a drug.

Some of the more common items that are considered drug paraphernalia are wood, stone, glass, ceramic or plastic pipes and pipes known as “water pipes” or bongs. “Roach clips,” used to grasp hold of a small cigarette or joint, could also be considered drug paraphernalia. Other items include tiny spoons used to snort cocaine and cocaine freebasing kits. Other items like scales, specific types of chemicals, plastic baggies, balloons and syringes could also fall under the category of drug paraphernalia.

If you have been arrested and charged with drug paraphernalia possession, or other kinds of drug charges, it may be wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney to find out what your rights and options are.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Drug Paraphernalia Charges” Nov. 11, 2014