Everything you wanted to know about drug paraphernalia

July 12, 2013

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Possession or sale of drug paraphernalia is a criminal offense in Michigan. A person may be charged with the offense "possession of drug paraphernalia" even though there are no drugs or marijuana involved. Most items the law considers drug paraphernalia are harmless and not otherwise illegal. However, when the items are associated with past or present illegal drug use, criminal charges may be pursued.

Drug paraphernalia, or narcotics paraphernalia, is the umbrella label given to describe the equipment utilized for the purpose of using or dealing in controlled substances and marijuana. A marijuana pipe, a triple beam scale, needles and bongs are all considered drug paraphernalia.


In Michigan, the definition of drug paraphernalia is found at MCL 333.7451:

"Drug paraphernalia" means any equipment, product, material, or combination of equipment, products, or materials, which is specifically 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...

Defending Drug Paraphernalia Cases

In Michigan, possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime which is classified as a misdemeanor. In Michigan, misdemeanor cases are handled in the district courts; such as the 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights or the 41-B District Court in Clinton Township. A drug case involving possession of marijuana will have a second charge added whenever the police also find paraphernalia. The problem that we find is that many individuals do not take these charges seriously. Actually, many wind up just pleading guilty without knowing their options. Once a guilty plea is accepted by the court, a permanent criminal record is created, which contains the stigma of a "drug crime." Later, the individual realizes that this offense shows up on a public criminal record and must be disclosed as a conviction on applications for employment, education and state licenses.

Our Macomb County lawyers can assert various defenses to drug crimes as well as drug paraphernalia cases including:

  • Lack of identification with items claimed to be drug paraphernalia

In addition, our attorneys can advocate for a deal to have a drug paraphernalia charge dismissed after a period of probation pursuant to various provisions of Michigan laws. These provisions of law allow the court to take a case under advisement and grant a dismissal to an offender who proves himself or herself to the court. Youthful offenders, age 17 but under age 21, are eligible to have the matter dismissed without entering a judgment of conviction.


Drug Paraphernalia Charges May Support Other Charges Such as Possession of Controlled Substance When Residue is Present

In the war on drugs, our lawmakers have made it a crime to possess peripheral items, namely those items that are associated with used for the ingestion, sale or manufacture of drugs.

Possession of Controlled Substance: The police may seek additional controlled substance criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance whenever drug residue can be found within the paraphernalia or in the person's possession. Possession charges (cocaine, marijuana, heroin) can be supported even though miniscule particles of drugs are derived from the paraphernalia. For example, this occurs when the police can scrap marijuana or cocaine residue from a pipe or bowl. Possession of cocaine and heroin are charged as a felony, even when the quantity obtained is hardly measurable.

Maintaining a Drug House or Vehicle: This is just another possible charge when the police can obtain paraphernalia and other drugs from an individual. Click here for a link to our website page for information regarding maintaining a drug house or vehicle.

Cooperation or Snitching: In addition, the police may attempt to persuade someone caught with drug paraphernalia to engage in undercover drug deals.

We recommend that anyone facing criminal drug charges hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss all possible options, defenses and alternative provisions of law which can lead to dismissal.