It has been my experience that the crime of “drug paraphernalia” catches most people off guard. The definition of drug paraphernalia casts a very wide net, and most people possess items that could be classified as drug paraphernalia and don’t know it. The key is what you plan to do with it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines drug paraphernalia as “any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.” The DEA further divides paraphernalia into two categories: (1) user-specific products designed to assist in using or concealing drugs, such as pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, roach clips, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers andcell phones used to conceal illegal drugs, and (2) dealer-specific products (scales, baggies, etc.) designed to assist in distributing drugs.
How does Mississippi define drug paraphernalia?
Mississippi has a very, very broad definition of what constitutes drug paraphernalia. According to Section 41-29-105 of the Mississippi Code Annotated, “paraphernalia” is:
all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law. It includes, but is not limited to:
(ii) Kits used, intended for use, or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing or preparing controlled substances;
(iii) Isomerization devices used, intended for use or designed for use in increasing the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance;
(iv) Testing equipment used, intended for use, or designed for use in identifying or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of controlled substances;
(v) Scales and balances used, intended for use or designed for use in weighing or measuring controlled substances;
(vi) Diluents and adulterants, such as quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose and lactose, used, intended for use or designed for use in cutting controlled substances;
(vii) Separation gins and sifters used, intended for use or designed for use in removing twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, marihuana;
(viii) Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons and mixing devices used, intended for use or designed for use in compounding controlled substances;
(ix) Capsules, balloons, envelopes and other containers used, intended for use or designed for use in packaging small quantities of controlled substances;
(x) Containers and other objects used, intended for use or designed for use in storing or concealing controlled substances;
(xi) Hypodermic syringes, needles and other objects used, intended for use or designed for use in parenterally injecting controlled substances into the human body;
(xii) Objects used, intended for use or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing marihuana, cocaine, hashish or hashish oil into the human body, such as:
1. Metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads or punctured metal bowls;
2. Water pipes;
3. Carburetion tubes and devices;
4. Smoking and carburetion masks;
5. Roach clips, meaning objects used to hold burning material, such as a marihuana cigarette, that has become too small or too short to be held in the hand;
6. Miniature cocaine spoons and cocaine vials;
7. Chamber pipes;
8. Carburetor pipes;
9. Electric pipes;
10. Air-driven pipes;
12. Bongs; and
13. Ice pipes or chillers.
I have LOTS of that stuff in my kitchen and garage! Am I in trouble?
Maybe. Probably not. The statute goes on to say that a court may use any logically relevant factor to determine if what you have is paraphernalia, including the following:
- Statements by an owner or by anyone in control of the object concerning its use;
- Prior convictions, if any, of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, under any state or federal law relating to any controlled substance;
- The proximity of the object, in time and space, to a direct violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law;
- The proximity of the object to controlled substances;
- The existence of any residue of controlled substances on the object;
- Direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, to deliver it to persons whom he knows, or should reasonably know, intend to use the object to facilitate a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law; the innocence of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, as to a direct violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law shall not prevent a finding that the object is intended for use, or designed for use as paraphernalia;
- Instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;
- Descriptive materials accompanying the object which explain or depict its use;
- National and local advertising concerning its use;
- The manner in which the object is displayed for sale;
- Whether the owner or anyone in control of the object is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products;
- Direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the object(s) to the total sales of the business enterprise;
- The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community;
- Expert testimony concerning its use.
So you see there is a big difference between having a glass vase on your coffee table with flowers in it, and having a glass vase on your coffee table with a picture of Cheech and Chong on it labled “Marijuana Bong, Use this to Ingest Illegal Drugs.” The judge will use common sense (and most of them are steeped in common sense) to make the determination. If there is any question at all on what you have we will file a motion to exclude it and present evidence concerning the above factors.
What are the punishments for possession of paraphernalia?
If you possess paraphernalia, or you possess it with the intent to sell it to someone, the punishment is confinement for up to six months and a fine of up to $500.00. If you advertise paraphernalia for sale in the newspaper, etc., punishment is the same. If you are 18 or over, and sell paraphernalia to someone who is at least three years younger than you, you can be confined up to one year, and fined up to $1000.00.