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The federal laws on drug paraphernalia

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | Federal Drug Charge

When it comes to federal drug laws, much attention goes to the substances themselves. However, the tools and equipment associated with drug use — known as drug paraphernalia — also fall under strict regulations.

What qualifies as paraphernalia?

According to federal law, paraphernalia includes any item designed for the manufacturing, compounding, concealing, producing, or cultivating of a controlled substance. Paraphernalia also includes any equipment used to ingest, inhale and introduce into the human body a controlled substance. This can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Metal, wooden, plastic, stone or ceramic pipes
  • Water pipes
  • Roach clips
  • Bongs
  • Ice pipes
  • Wired cigarette papers
  • Syringes

Some everyday items may also count as drug paraphernalia, such as belts, small spoons and weighing scales. Federal law has rules on how to decide whether an item is paraphernalia or not.

Determining paraphernalia

The law recognizes that many items have legal purposes, but these same items can also be drug paraphernalia. It’ll all depend on the context surrounding the items. A federal court will consider factors such as statements by the owner, prior convictions, proximity to drugs, and the existence of residue from controlled substances.

The penalties for paraphernalia

Anyone convicted of selling, offering, importing or exporting drug paraphernalia faces up to three years of prison and a court-determined fine. Note that federal law doesn’t outlaw possession, per se.

Although federal laws don’t directly prohibit the ownership of drug paraphernalia, the mere act of passing them along to another person can be a violation. If you face charges, either as an individual or a business, you don’t have to face them alone. A legal professional may be able to advise you on your case and protect your rights in court.