What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

In North Carolina, drug paraphernalia is something used “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 which it would be unlawful to possess, or to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the body a controlled substance other than marijuana which it would be unlawful to possess.” NCGS 90-113.22 A person found with drug paraphernalia may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and could face up to 120 days in jail.

Drug paraphernalia can be anything from a pestle and mortar to a plastic baggie or a drinking straw. Usually when law enforcement charges a person with possession of drug paraphernalia, there will also be a felony charge for drugs, such as cocaine, meth, or heroin. Sometimes, a cop charges a person with drug paraphernalia without charging the person for drugs. This always raises a defense attorney’s eyebrows because technically it is not illegal to have many things that could be paraphernalia if there are no drugs attached. For example, it’s not illegal to possess a baggie or a straw. If there are no drugs in the area of these items, nor drug residue on the item, then it is not an illegal substance.

However, cops still charge people for drug paraphernalia without drug charges. It’s up to the State of North Carolina to prove the paraphernalia was used for an illicit controlled substance. Often, the State cannot meet this burden because generally North Carolina does not send items to be drug tested at the SBI lab for misdemeanor cases. Law enforcement can do a roadside test, but these are not always reliable.

What is Marijuana Paraphernalia?

Marijuana paraphernalia is an item used with marijuana. Most often, this is a baggie, pipe, or scale. Possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a Class 3 misdemeanor and carries a maximum of twenty days in jail, although it often comes with only a cost and fine if other charges are not attached. Like drug paraphernalia, cops will sometimes charge marijuana paraphernalia without the actual presence of marijuana. And because only a lab test can distinguish between marijuana and legal hemp, this charge can often be fought in court. Alternatively, if this is a person’s first criminal charge, they may have the option to go through the 90-96 program to take drug awareness classes and have the charge dismissed and expunged.

If you have been charged with drug paraphernalia or marijuana paraphernalia in Wake County, contact William Pruden at 919-880-2124 for a free consultation on your charges. There are often many ways to fight the charge or ways to mitigate the punishment.

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