What Is the Difference Between Drug Paraphernalia and Marijuana Paraphernalia?
What’s drug paraphernalia? It’s generally any item you could use to make, package, or take a controlled substance. A controlled substance includes drugs that are illegal for everyone and those which require a prescription written by a doctor. A lot of items considered to be drug paraphernalia, like rolling papers or lighters, you can buy at a gas station or store. What makes them illegal? It’s the context in which they are being used. Therefore, the must show you had the items for the purpose of using or selling drugs.
According to North Carolina laws (NCGS 90-113.22(a)), drug paraphernalia includes items used for controlled substances other than marijuana. However, you can also get penalized for possession or use of marijuana paraphernalia. That would be anything used for marijuana with evidence of such use.
Paraphernalia Charges in North Carolina
Possession of drug paraphernalia is different from possession of marijuana paraphernalia and is considered to be the more serious offense of the two. They are separate charges and carry completely different penalties. If you face either one, talk with a drug crime defense lawyer about beating these charges.
Do you have a clean record? You don’t want to tarnish your name and record with a paraphernalia charge that could reflect poorly on you in the future. Even though no actual drugs were involved, it’s a drug-related crime. A conviction could impact where you get into college and student loans, grants, and scholarships. Employers might not give you a chance or overlook you for promotions. Even landlords look down on criminal records.
Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Possession of drug paraphernalia is the more severe charge. It’s illegal to have an item to grow, manufacturer, package, store, or hide a controlled substance. The statute specifically makes it illegal to “knowingly use or possess with intent to use drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance other than marijuana.”
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, you face up to 120 days in jail, a longer term of probation, substance abuse counseling, community service, and fines.
Examples of Drug Paraphernalia
- Glass pipes
- Hypodermic needles
- Aluminum foil
- Baggies or other packaging or storage items
- Scales or other items to weigh substances
Marijuana Paraphernalia Charges
It’s illegal to have an item to grow, harvest, analyze, package, store, or hide marijuana.
Possession of marijuana paraphernalia is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. While a Class 3 Misdemeanor can carry up to 20 days in jail, if convicted of Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia, you’ll usually receive a fine and/or a period of unsupervised probation. To avoid a punishment more severe than appropriate or a conviction altogether, it’s essential to have a criminal defense attorney help you when facing any criminal charge, regardless of how minor it may seem.
Examples of Marijuana Paraphernalia
- Glass pipes
- Rolling papers
- Vape pens
- Tools used to grow and cultivate marijuana plants
Which Charge Will the Police Issue?
The circumstances dictate which charge the police cite you for when issuing a citation, criminal summons, or arrest warrant. It often depends on whether the police found marijuana or other controlled substances too. The prosecutor might look at all the items to determine if they indicate using a particular drug, such as meth or cocaine.
Defending Against Paraphernalia Charges
There are many ways to fight drug and/or marijuana paraphernalia charges. It helps to have a drug crime defense attorney review the circumstances of the case and explain your options.
One possibility is arguing the “paraphernalia” were items unrelated to drug use. We might present evidence you had those items for other reasons. Maybe you use a small scale for baking. Maybe the large amount of small baggies is for your Etsy store merchandise. The rolling papers could be for tobacco, which is legal if you’re of age.
Another defense is that you didn’t possess the items alleged to be paraphernalia. It might be that someone else owned the items. You were merely in the same place at the same time – that pipe, lighter, and grinder could be your roommates.
A separate issue is whether the officers found the paraphernalia through a lawful search and seizure. If the cops searched your belongings, home, or vehicle without the right to, your lawyer would ask the court to rule the evidence inadmissible.
With the help of an experienced, you may succeed in getting drug paraphernalia charges reduced to marijuana paraphernalia charges. You might get the charges dropped or dismissed altogether.
Call Us for Help
When you’re ready to fight marijuana paraphernalia or drug paraphernalia charges in North Carolina, contact us at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Lawyers. You can use the online form or call (980) 237-4579 to set up your free initial consultation.