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  3. What is Drug Paraphernalia?

What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Mar 8, 2021 | Drug Crimes

We have all heard of drug paraphernalia, and most people think they understand what the term means. But a look at the statute in Arizona which makes possession of drug paraphernalia a crime, shows that the definition is much broader – and much less clear – than you might imagine.

U.S. Department of Justice “Facts” About Drug Paraphernalia

The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) was established under the direction of the United States Department of Justice to coordinate drug intelligence from law enforcement agencies and others. In a pamphlet published by the NDIC, there is some specific information about paraphernalia. It includes the following:

  • Definition of Drug Paraphernalia. Any “equipment” used to consume, manufacture, conceal or produce illegal drugs. It gives several examples, such as pipes, bongs, and roach clips, as well as anything designed to inhale, inject, or ingest controlled substances.
  • What Does Drug Paraphernalia Look Like? Interestingly, this section of the pamphlet begins with the statement that identifying drug paraphernalia can be “challenging.” The authors go on to state that it can include objects that specifically say they are not to be used for illegal purposes, and it also suggests that paraphernalia can be identified by objects that are made using “bright, trendy colors.”
  • Is Drug Paraphernalia Illegal? The answer is yes, under federal and most or all state laws.

While the pamphlet speaks a lot about paraphernalia, it really does not provide much help on when you can be arrested for possession of objects that may be considered illegal.

Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona

Similarly, the drug paraphernalia law in Arizona can probably be described as a model of confusion. The law includes within it many items that could, depending upon a host of subjective factors, be considered illegal. Among them are scales used for weighing ingredients, blenders, bowls, sifters, and spoons, most of which could be found in any local bakery. They also include syringes, needles, and fentanyl testing strips, all of which could have the effect, if they were legal, of reducing drug overdose deaths and other health problems.

Perhaps the only positive thing that can be said about the Arizona law is that possession of drug paraphernalia was included in Prop 200. This means that for a first or second offense, there will be no jail time, just probation.

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