Last March, the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would help decriminalize the possession and distribution of drug paraphernalia. The purpose of Senate Bill 420 is to decrease the attitude of criminalization towards people who use drug paraphernalia and instead encourage those people to use products and programs that are better for them. One of the examples used to support the passing of the bill was written testimony submitted by the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition.
According to the written testimony, registered harm reduction organizations that use certain paraphernalia, such as syringes and needles, have been harassed by law enforcement and received unnecessary citations. Senate Bill 420 aims to resolve that issue by minimizing that type of behavior. However, what about individual cases of drug paraphernalia? What if you or someone you know was caught with drug paraphernalia? Are you still at risk for getting arrested and suffering even greater legal consequences? Annapolis criminal defense attorney Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law answers these questions in today’s blog.
What is possession of drug paraphernalia?
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a type of drug crime where an individual has been suspected of illegally possessing some type of instrument, tool or device that is used to ingest, inhale, or inject a controlled dangerous substance. Although this drug crime is classified as a misdemeanor, this is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly.
If convicted of this crime, you can suffer the consequences for many years of your life. This type of conviction can affect your background check, your future work history, and any other important decisions that impact your future.
Is drug paraphernalia a misdemeanor or felony?
Although the offense of possession of drug paraphernalia is classified as a misdemeanor, there are special circumstances where the crime can be considered a felony. One particular circumstance is if you are responsible for manufacturing, selling, or delivering drug paraphernalia anywhere in the state of Maryland. Another circumstance where your charge can be considered a felony is if you are responsible for manufacturing, selling, or delivering any drug paraphernalia to a minor.
What are some examples of drug paraphernalia?
What is legally considered drug paraphernalia? Technically speaking, any type of item can be considered drug paraphernalia if the item is used in any way to help with the use, distribution, or manufacture of the substance. Rolling papers, for example, are not solely meant for marijuana use. When rolling papers are paired with small amounts of marijuana, however, they can be classified as drug paraphernalia.
Still, there are certain instruments or pieces of equipment that are immediately associated with certain types of substances. Equipment that is also used to manufacture and produce illegal substances can also be classified as drug paraphernalia. These types of products fall into two categories: user-specific products and dealer-specific products.
User-specific products are any devices or equipment that assist an individual in consuming an illegal substance. Glass pipes, needles, syringes, crack pipes and freebasing spoons would be examples of user-specific products.
Dealer-specific products are products that assist drug traffickers in manufacturing and distributing drugs. Examples of dealer-specific products include items such as weight scales, vials, bowls, or small sandwich bags.
What factors determine drug paraphernalia?
Law enforcement officials utilize several factors to determine whether an object or piece of equipment qualifies as drug paraphernalia. Some of the factors include: how close in proximity the object is to drug use (how close the object was located near the illegal substance), whether drug residue is found on the object, whether the person in possession of the object has any prior drug offenses, and whether the object was advertised or displayed for sale.
Unfortunately, there is no set standard for classifying drug paraphernalia that applies to all cases; therefore, law enforcement officials can decide and determine what qualifies as drug paraphernalia.
What is considered marijuana paraphernalia?
You may be wondering: With the legalization of marijuana, is marijuana paraphernalia considered drug paraphernalia? While marijuana is still not fully legalized in Maryland, marijuana itself has been decriminalized since 2015. As a result, possession of marijuana paraphernalia is considered a civil offense instead of a criminal offense. It is still illegal, however, to possess marijuana paraphernalia used for the intent of distributing and producing marijuana without the proper authorization.
What are the penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia?
If you are convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, your penalty depends on whether you are a first or repeat offender. If this is your first offense, your crime will be charged as a misdemeanor, and you will be responsible for paying a fine of up to 500 dollars. If you are a repeat offender, however, that is when your crime has the possibility of being charged as a felony.
Repeat offenders of possession of drug paraphernalia are typically sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of up to 2,000 dollars. You will also be severely penalized for selling marijuana paraphernalia to a minor that is at least three years your junior, with a mandatory prison sentence of up to eight years and a $15,000 fine.
Once I review the specific details of a case, I create a defense strategy that pursues the best possible outcome. I argue the law and the facts. If arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia near Annapolis or Ellicott City, your first call must be to a knowledgeable Annapolis drug defense attorney. Let me help you through this difficult time by using my skills and dedication to defend your best interests.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, I’ve been providing the citizens of Annapolis and Ellicott City with serious representation for more than 18 years. I provide accessible, effective, and knowledgeable representation in Maryland drug crime cases. If you are charged with a drug crime and want to learn how I can help, call my office today at 410-271-1892, or complete our contact form.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.