Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
With the recent legal landscape surrounding marijuana changing throughout the United States, it can be confusing knowing exactly what is allowed. Even more confusing is understanding the interplay between marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia is defined under statute as all equipment used to manufacture, inject, test, or enhance a controlled substance. See Minn. Stat. § 152.01 Subd. 18. While Minnesota has "decriminalized" the recreational use of marijuana and has legalized medical marijuana, drug paraphernalia is a distinct legal charge that may be brought against you depending on your circumstances.
Importantly, if you have a medical marijuana prescription, you cannot be charged with the possession of drug paraphernalia relating to that use. However, if there is any evidence of use beyond medical purposes, or the paraphernalia is being used for any other controlled substance, you may very well be facing additional charges.
Fortunately, the first time you are caught with drug paraphernalia, the offenses is a petty misdemeanor, which is non-criminal. Minn. Stat. § 152.092. Because it is non-criminal, the maximum penalty is a fine of 300 dollars. Minn. Stat. § 609.02 Subd. 4. However, if you are found in possession of paraphernalia a second time, criminal charges may be brought against you, resulting in up to 90 days in jail and a 1,000 dollar fine.
While Minnesota has "decriminalized" the use of personal marijuana, it only applies to "small amounts" and you will still face a fine. Minn. Stat. 152.07 Subd. 4. It is still a criminal offense to possess a greater amount than the broad term of "small". Thus, it is really the law enforcements discretion. Moreover, while multiple infractions of possessing small amounts of marijuana will all be non-criminal offenses, if you have paraphernalia as well, you will face criminal charges for subsequent offenses.
Also, keep in mind that if an officer observes drug paraphernalia, they will have the authority to search you, regardless of whether you are on the street or in your car. While this search is somewhat limited in scope, it will nonetheless be intrusive. Examples of paraphernalia include: pipes, wraps, grinders, scales, storage containers, and syringes.
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or have additional questions about the subject, call our office today. An experienced defense attorney may be able to have evidence of your crime excluded from trial and will be able to expertly represent you throughout the process.