Heads Up: You Can Get Arrested for Marijuana Paraphernalia
Even with cannabis legalization surging, there are still several ways to get in trouble for having marijuana paraphernalia on your person. Here’s everything you need to know about paraphernalia, and what to watch out for. Below, we’re breaking down the different types of marijuana paraphernalia and some of the local and federal laws that you should be aware of if you intend to travel with marijuana paraphernalia in the future.
What is Paraphernalia?
Paraphernalia is a term used to describe the equipment that is used to produce, conceal, or consume illegal drugs. In layman’s terms, this extends to any product used for smoking, storing, selling, or using marijuana or marijuana products. There are many different types of marijuana paraphernalia, and all of it is illegal on a federal level if it’s tested by authorities and found to have cannabis residue on it. However, the marijuana paraphernalia laws vary on a state-by-state basis. They exist in a legal gray area in a lot of places since many illicit products are often used for other purposes, like tobacco or alcohol use, etc.
Different Types of Marijuana Paraphernalia
Per federal laws, it’s illegal to possess marijuana paraphernalia. The list below covers the most common types of paraphernalia that can get you in trouble if you’re caught. As legalization presses on, these products have become more and more available at head shops and smoke stores. While paraphernalia is always illegal in the eyes of the feds, a wide range of state laws vary. Be sure to check the laws in your area to get a better understanding of what you’re up against.
1. Smoking Items
- Marijuana pipes
- Water pipes
- Dab rigs
- Steam rollers
- Gravity bongs
- and other smoking apparatuses intended for use with marijuana
2. Smoking Accessories
- Rolling papers
- Blunt wraps (if they’re opened and the tobacco is scooped out)
- Roach clips
- Lighters with bowl cashing pokers
- Ashtrays with bowl cashing pokers
- Rolling trays
- Dab mats
- Concentrate pucks
- Flower containers
- Concealing items (like Sprite cans with a false slide-out bottom)
3. Dabbing Supplies
- Vape pens or dab pens
- Empty cartridges
- Dab tools
- Carb caps
- Cleaning supplies
4. Distribution Items
- Weighing scales
- Two-way humidity packs
- Airtight jars
Basically, anything marijuana-related that isn’t marijuana or cannabis concentrates is illegal. However, it really depends on the state you live in. If you live in a fully recreational 21+ state, you’ll usually have more relaxed paraphernalia laws. But if you live in a place that doesn’t have cannabis in any way, your laws will be more strict.
Can You Get Charged With Paraphernalia With Your Medical Card?
In most places, you can still get in trouble for having marijuana paraphernalia even if you have a legal license to smoke weed. Most medical programs impose restrictions on how patients can use cannabis and how they can store it. So, in some states, even with a green card, you don’t have a green light to possess a lot of paraphernalia. Always check local and state regulations to get a feel for what slides and what doesn’t in your area.
Where Can You Get In Trouble For Having Marijuana Paraphernalia?
Since marijuana is illegal on a federal level, you can be prosecuted for owning or selling these items, especially if you also have weed on you. Under federal law, you can’t sell or offer to sell marijuana paraphernalia, mail marijuana paraphernalia, or import/export marijuana paraphernalia.
Federal laws list specific examples of drug paraphernalia, including pipes, water pipes, chillums, and roach clips. While simple possession of paraphernalia isn’t a federal crime, some state laws will punish you for owning or having these items under any circumstance. If you get pulled over, police may check your car for drug residue, and, if you’re caught with a bowl or bong, you could face charges.
Some states have longer lists of banned items. In Washington State, for example, you can’t have scales or test kits in your car. However, some rec states have eliminated certain items, like bongs and bowls if they’re stored out of reach. Even if your state is more relaxed, federal law still forbids them.
You can get in trouble for possessing paraphernalia in all 50 US states because of federal laws. However, state laws are different. You should always check the cannabis laws in your state using NORML to help you understand which laws and punishments apply to you. For example, in Ohio, you can catch a 4th-degree misdemeanor for possession of marijuana paraphernalia alone, while some states don’t even look twice at it.
What To Do If You Face Marijuana Paraphernalia Charges
If you get pulled over with a bowl in your glove box, don’t panic. Drug paraphernalia charges are relatively easy to drop if you have a good lawyer. The first step you should take is to contact a reputable cannabis lawyer or a lawyer who deals with drug charges.
If the police didn’t find any drugs in your car and they’re trying to catch you on a paraphernalia charge, your lawyer will move to get your case dismissed. They can try to prove that probable cause didn’t exist in the first place. If they let you go without a stop or seizure of your person, there’s a good chance the charges will be dismissed.
The best thing you can do is keep your nose clean. Keep cannabis paraphernalia out of your car and safely at home if you can help it. Never drive high, and always thoroughly clean your paraphernalia before traveling with it. It helps to keep it in the trunk and out of reach while you’re driving, too.
If you get caught on paraphernalia charges and have weed in your car, just call a lawyer. They’re your best shot at getting your charges dropped and moving on with your life.