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The Sale and Transportation of Drug Paraphernalia

Most people are aware, whether from the news, personal experience, or legal training, that selling, manufacturing, and distributing controlled substances by unauthorized users is prohibited by federal law. However, few are aware that it is also unlawful to sell drug paraphernalia and that doing so is a violation of federal law and punishable by up to three years in prison. If you are facing federal charges of selling drug paraphernalia, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced federal crime attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Prohibited Conduct  

Under federal law, it is unlawful to sell, offer to sell, use the mail to transport, or to import or export drug paraphernalia. Those who are convicted of one of these offenses face heavy fines and up to three years in prison for each charge.

What Qualifies as Drug Paraphernalia? 

For the purposes of this statute, drug paraphernalia includes any equipment, material, or product that is primarily designed to use in the manufacturing, converting, concealing, processing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or introducing an illegal controlled substance into the body. This includes items used primarily for inhaling or ingesting marijuana, hashish, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine, or amphetamines, such as:

  • Pipes made of metal, wood, acrylic materials, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic;
  • Water pipes;
  • Roach clips, which are used to hold a marijuana cigarette that has burned down to such a degree that it is too small to hold in the hand;
  • Carburetion masks, tubes, and devices;
  • Bongs;
  • Chillums, which are cone-shaped pipes used for inhaling marijuana and hashish;
  • Miniature spoons, if they have a level capacity of one-tenth of a cubic centimeter or less;
  • Cocaine freebase kits;
  • Electric pipes; and
  • Ice pipes or chillers.

Many people are unaware that an item that they are selling technically qualifies as drug paraphernalia. For example, selling wired cigarette papers is unlawful under federal law. Furthermore, even items that are not listed by statute as drug paraphernalia can be labeled as such after a review of the following factors:

  • The content of the instructions, whether oral or written, that are provided with the item;
  • The content of national and local advertising about the item’s use;
  • How the item was displayed;
  • Whether the seller is a legitimate supplier or licensed distributor of similar items, such as tobacco products;
  • Whether there are any legitimate uses for the item in the community;
  • Expert testimony on the purpose of the item; and
  • The existence of evidence demonstrating the ratio of sales of the items to a business’ total sales.

Even when these factors weigh in favor of an item being labeled as drug paraphernalia, a seller or distributor can still escape conviction if:

  • He or she is authorized by local, state, or federal law to distribute such items; or
  • The item is imported, exported, sold, or transported through the mail in the normal and lawful course of business and is intended for use with tobacco products, such as paper, pipes, and certain accessories.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Miami Federal Crime Lawyer  

If you have been charged with distributing or selling drug paraphernalia in federal court, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 , so we can begin working on your defense. We serve clients in Miami and the rest of South Florida.

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