Interviewer: Going back to marijuana because it’s the most common illegal drug that’s abused out there… I’ve heard people use grinders to grind up marijuana they have stash bottles or pill bottles they can put weed in to hide it.
They can also smoke it out of water or glass pipes and all that. (probably the same with meth and other drugs, too). So is an object considered to be paraphernalia once it’s used or before it’s used and can you say more about that?
Mike: Paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia, you can be charged two ways. Because it’s a Class 6 felony, in Arizona Class 6 felonies can be charged as a Class 6 felony or the state as the option of charging as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In Arizona the law says all Class 6s can be turned into a misdemeanor by the state or by a judge at sentencing.
So, in Maricopa County, Maricopa attorney’s office what they do, when they charge you with possession of any type of drug, they’re always going to tag on a possession of drug paraphernalia charge in the Class 6 felony and paraphernalia. The definition of paraphernalia in Arizona is very loose and what the means is paraphernalia can be literally the plastic baggie holding the drugs. It can also be what’s commonly known as pipes or bongs or ingestion devices. It can be the needle for heroin. Paraphernalia can be the roach clip for marijuana. It can be the rolling papers for joints. I mean, it can be many different things.
To prove something is marijuana paraphernalia, the loss has a totality of the circumstances guidelines and what they do is they say it is not illegal to possess a pipe, for example, it’s only illegal to possess it if the state can prove through many different types of evidence that that pipe is used to either hold or ingest or smoke illegal drugs. One of the most common methods the states uses to prove a drug paraphernalia case is drug residue. If the police find drug residue on the paraphernalia and send it to the lab and it comes up positive then they have a much better argument that it is actually drug paraphernalia versus just a pipe.
Mike: And that is exactly why smoke shops or head shops are allowed to sell these items because these items are not illegal when their sold. Their only illegal if it can be proved that their used for the purposes of illegal drugs.
Interviewer: Okay, I got you. I’ve heard that smoke shops even say that pipes are used for tobacco and they could be used for marijuana or whenever it’s used for tobacco or . . .
Interviewer: Everything has a dual purpose I guess.
Mike: Exactly, exactly. A paper clip is just a paper clip, but if they find it with rolling paper, they could call it drug paraphernalia.
Interviewer: Okay, and if they get glass tube and Brillo, normally that’s fine, but it becomes paraphernalia the moment you put crack rock in it and smoke it.
Mike: And that’s why the law looks at the totality of the circumstances as a standard when they say paraphernalia. You have to look at a lot of different things to see whether it is actually used for illegal drugs.